Celebrating Barnet’s Community Vaccine Champions
Over the past year, Barnet’s Community Vaccine Champions have been working in their local communities to dispel vaccine myths, promote vaccine uptake and improve health outcomes.
As a partnership between Barnet Council and Barnet Together, the Community Vaccine Champion project funded 11 community groups with over £150,000. The project recognised the importance of tailored local approaches built on effective community engagement to reduce health inequalities.
On Thursday 7 September, community groups, Barnet Council, Barnet Together and the NHS came together to celebrate the achievements of all involved.
Dr Tamara Djuretic, Joint Director of Public Health and Prevention, Barnet Council and The Royal Free London Group, opened the celebration: “The difficulties around reducing health inequalities have never been as challenging as they are today, as we recover from the effects of the pandemic and tackle the pressures on our communities from the cost-of-living crisis. The only way forward is to use innovation and come up with different ways to improve health and wellbeing in our communities – which is what everyone involved in the Community Vaccine Champion project has achieved.”
Attendees at the event heard from some of the local community organisations funded through the project. The Romanian and Eastern European Hub worked with the local Romanian community to address barriers to vaccination. Through the project, they were able to reach 429 Romanians, Roma Romanians and other Eastern Europeans on key health issues. The Community Network Group supported local Iranian and Farsi speaking people to understand their concerns and barriers to vaccination. Over 2,000 people were reached through activities to tackle misinformation and initiatives to increase trust and overall vaccine uptake.
The project employed 6 Health Ambassadors who have played a vital role, building key relationships and trust within communities to improve health outcomes.
Health Ambassador Farah Josephs talked about her work with the Jewish community to improve overall health inequalities and her use of key health events to engage the community with vaccine information. Health Ambassador Jo Gowers shared her experience in actively engaging with asylum seekers and migrant populations and attending events to initiate conversations on health Including vaccinations.
Cllr Alison Moore, Chair of the Health and Wellbeing Board, Barnet Council, said: “The legacy we have built from the Health Champions initiative and the Community Vaccine Champions project is giving individuals the confidence to share and push back against harmful misinformation. The project’s emphasis on co-production and communication between the council and our local communities, is absolutely vital in providing health and wellbeing support to local people that we otherwise might struggle to engage with. Together, through initiatives like this, we are collectively becoming better connected, more resilient, and able to make Barnet the best and healthiest borough.”
Katrina Baker, Director of Communities and Environmental Services, Groundwork London (Barnet Together) said: “It’s been fantastic to see successful relationships across organisations and communities being built and maintained and lay the foundation for further collaboration to improve community resilience and health inequalities across the borough.”
The Community Vaccine Champions project was funded by the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities through the Community Vaccine Champions Grant.
Watch a short video to hear some of the community groups and residents share their stories: https://youtu.be/Nkh44kt6gVk External link
A dose of the Covid-19 vaccine will be offered this autumn to people aged 65 and over, residents in care homes for older people, anyone aged 6 months and over in a clinical risk group, and health and social care staff. Appointments will be available on the National Booking Service External link from Monday 18 September.