Community project to protect against Covid wins national praise

5th July 2022

A scheme to boost vaccination take up, promote health information, and tackle social isolation in and around Great Yarmouth has won national praise.

Great Yarmouth Borough Council launched its Community Champions’ Programme in March 2021 and has so far recruited more than 100 people from across the borough to help share information and feedback on health and other issues.

Working together with Norfolk Public Health and partners across the NHS, the Community Champions’ Programme was particularly effective in boosting take up of the Covid-19 vaccinations in the borough.

That work has now been nationally recognised at the MJ Awards for local government, with a Highly Commended award in the Community Heroes category. The accolade marks it out as one of the top community projects nationally.

The team organised pop-up vaccination sites around the borough, door-knocking alongside the Council’s Community Marshals, and worked with Shrublands Community Youth and Adult Centre and the Salvation Army to open two community-operated food clubs.

Although initially aimed at tackling COVID-19, the Champions also help local people access a broader range of health-related information and support organisations, ranging from food bank referrals to debt and hardship advice.

The Champions are active community members who draw on their local knowledge, skills and life experience to promote health and wellbeing, helping improve connections between their local communities and service providers.

They come from across the community and have a range of nationalities, jobs, ages and backgrounds, and include 10 Youth Health Champions.

Their advice helped shape the responses by the council and the local NHS to Covid and the new Norfolk & Waveney Integrated Care System now plans to use a similar approach across the region to help ensure community views are included in how it plans and delivers services.

Community Champions Co-ordinator James Dudley said: “This recognition from the prestigious MJ Awards is a fantastic thank you to all our Community Champions who give up their own time to help make the lives of people in their community better.

“Together with our partner organisations, we have been able to make a real difference to the lives of people around the borough, and it has given us a fantastic foundation to do even more in the future.”

Chair of the council’s housing and neighbourhood committee Cllr Emma Flaxman-Taylor said: “As councillors we know how important it is to listen to our communities, and the Community Champions’ Programme has enabled us to do that on an even wider scale.

“It is brilliant to have our work in Great Yarmouth highlighted as best practice nationally.”

Partners in the project include Norfolk & Waveney Integrated Care System, the Great Yarmouth & Northern Villages Primary Care Network and the Gorleston Primary Care Network.

Community Champions – Josie, Lauren, Tamsin, Nigel & John

Notes to editors

  • A photo of some of the Community Champions is attached. Credit: GYBC.
  • The Community Champions initial programme was supported with a £465,000 grant from the then Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.
  • The MJ Awards are organised by The MJ local government sector newspaper (formally Municipal Journal) and recognise achievements by councils nationwide. The awards were presented at a London ceremony on 24 June, hosted by journalist and Mastermind presenter Clive Myrie.
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