A new initiative has been launched to create a network of volunteers to help people in Somerset get the latest advice about Covid-19 and ensure residents stay as happy and healthy as possible in these difficult times.
The scheme hit the ground running this week with the first 17 Covid Community Champions attending an induction via Zoom.
Attendees ranged from interested members of the public, to those working with vulnerable and hard to reach groups. Over the coming weeks, more inductions aim to reach people who might struggle to access and follow the right information about Covid-19. These groups include people who don’t have English as a first language, those working in factories where larger outbreaks can occur due to higher numbers of staff, and those living in shared housing.
The Covid Community Champions scheme is funded by Somerset County Council’s Public Health and delivered by a partnership between Spark Somerset and the Somerset Activity and Sports Partnership (SASP), who will work together over the coming weeks to develop the new network of volunteers.
The initiative will help people in Somerset to get clear information on how to stay safe and reduce the risk of getting and spreading the infection, and what additional support there might be to help do this.
They will receive the latest updates and guidance from our Public Health team to share with families, friends, communities and workplaces, and in return feedback ideas and issues to the Covid-19 Engagement Board so that it can listen and adjust to help people stay as safe and well as possible.
Other similar schemes have been set up in areas such as Southampton and Newham, but the Somerset initiative will be specifically tailored to the needs of the county.
Councillor Clare Paul, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health & Wellbeing, said: “This vital network will add to the amazing efforts of the many volunteers already making a difference in Somerset.
“The network is being set up to help local people get the latest advice about Covid-19, in a way that makes sense to them.”
Helen Fielden, Covid Champion Coordinator from Spark Somerset, said: “The induction went really well. People were really positive about going out into their communities and sharing the information they’d received. We’d like to involve as many people as possible so If you’d like to get involved, please visit http://www.sparkachange.org.uk and search for ‘Covid Community Champions’.”
Jane Knowles from SASP said: “Covid Community Champions are important to support the key government messaging around the importance of physical activity for our physical and emotional wellbeing.
“Ensuring that our Covid Community Champions have knowledge and understanding of this and can communicate the guidance around groupings and offers that are opening up in our communities as this inevitably changes over time will be key to keeping people active and healthier through this period.”
For more information on how you can get involved please email Helen.Fielden@sparksomerset.org.uk
Don’t forget, a single phone number is available for anyone in Somerset who needs Coronavirus-related support from their councils. The Somerset Coronavirus Support Helpline number, 0300 790 6275, is open seven days a week from 8am to 6pm, offering a range of support – from help accessing food or medicines, to emotional and financial support, and employment, skills and business advice.