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£375K funding to improve health care access for ‘at risk’ groups

A drive to ensure Wirral communities most at-risk from COVID-19 are supported has been bolstered with £375,000 of national funding.

The grant, part of a boost of £23m to various councils, will see additional ‘Community Champions’ employed across the borough - trained to share trustworthy COVID-19 vaccine advice and information to boost local vaccination take-up.

Locally, funds will be allocated to Wirral’s BAME (Black and Minority Ethnic) organisations who have worked at the fore of the borough’s COVID-19 response to support vulnerable groups.

The new funding will help:

  • Provide nine specialist Community Champions to support local BAME communities
  • Support in-depth data analysis to understand the impact COVID-19 has had on the local BAME population
  • Improve the quality, translation, and accessibility of health information, including information relating to COVID-19 restrictions, self-isolation and vaccination uptake.
  • Provide health literacy training for health professionals working with local BAME communities.
  • Source technology to help people connect and access information.

In 2020 Public Health England (PHE) and National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) found that BAME groups are more likely to test positive and have increased risk of death associated with COVID-19.

Much community engagement throughout the pandemic has been co-ordinated by a Humanitarian network made up of more than 70 local community and third sector organisations – including a BAME subgroup.

The group, in partnership with the Council, has produced videos and translations around key prevention messages, provide valuable intelligence regarding fears and issues within their communities and established a vital outreach approach to COVID-19 testing for BAME communities.

Clint Agard, Chief Executive Officer at Wirral Change, a specialist BAME outreach organisation, said: “I am so proud of the work we’ve done in partnership with other local BAME services and groups throughout the pandemic to connect with our communities at a time when they need us most.

“Ensuring access to health care, breaking down social barriers and supporting local people to stay safe, well and clued up on the latest guidance is essential to keeping us all safe.

“The Community Champion programme can continue this work, bringing our expertise and local knowledge to the table, and allow us to continue doing our bit to Keep Wirral Well.”

The Community Champions Fund, backed by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), will support people shown to be most at risk from Coronavirus (COVID-19) including those from an ethnic minority background, disabled people and others to follow safer behaviours and reduce the impact of the virus on themselves and those around them.