Fresh call for covid champions to help keep South Tyneside safe
More than £500,000 has already been secured by South Tyneside Council to fund the scheme which aims to tackle misinformation around the virus.
The community champions provide up-to-date, accurate health information to help people correctly follow Government guidance as the world begins to open up.
Working in partnership with the third sector and local voluntary sector umbrella organisation, Inspire South Tyneside some funds have already been allocated to charities and groups to carry out communications with at-risk groups.
This includes the elderly, those from minority ethnic backgrounds and people with disabilities.
Now, Inspire South Tyneside is looking to fund more Covid Community Champions from both the voluntary sector and the wider community.
It is looking to get key businesses such as hairdressers, beauticians and pub managers, and smaller community-based groups, on board as they are best placed to help people at a local level.
Charlotte Harrison, chief executive of Inspire South Tyneside, said: “We know that throughout the Covid-19 pandemic the people of South Tyneside have looked out for each other – whether by dropping off shopping, checking in on vulnerable neighbours or volunteering as vaccine marshals.
“What we now need to do is extend that spirit of South Tyneside.
“We know that having trusted sources of information and support is vital.
“The grants we have provided to organisations such as Vision and Hearing Support mean that groups can stretch their services to ensure all parts of our community are receiving timely, useful information about vaccines and living safely and well as we move out of lockdown.”
As part of the Covid Community Champions scheme, local organisation Vision and Hearing Support appointed champions to work with people with hearing or visual impairments.
Through the use of digital communications, they will be able to reach out to people who may otherwise find it difficult to know how to keep themselves safe.
Ellie Mahoney, one of the Covid Community Champions, said she took on the role to “ensure that those with sensory loss were getting the information and the support that they needed to stay safe and healthy in confusing times.”
Fellow Covid champion Rebecca Miller, added: “Being part of this community myself, I am passionate about ensuring that deaf people and those who are hard of hearing have the same access to information as any other member of the public and are able to make informed and independent choices of their own.”
Councillor Moira Smith, lead member for the voluntary sector, partnerships and co-operatives on South Tyneside Council, welcomed the success of the scheme so far.
“As we take our first tentative steps towards a more normal life, it is crucial that everyone knows how to stay safe and well,” she said.
“In line with one of our priorities to support our vulnerable communities, we must keep those groups who are most at risk from the virus at the centre of our thoughts.
“We cannot always rely on the usual forms of communication for some of these groups and that is why Covid Community Champions are so important in delivering information to key groups in an accessible way.”
Inspire South Tyneside is running a series of online ‘funding surgeries’ for organisations interested in the Covid Community Champions scheme.
To find out more, visit www.inspiresouthtyneside.co.uk or search ‘Inspire South Tyneside’ on Facebook.