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Community Vaccine Champions to support Preston people most at risk from Covid-19

Posted on - 10th January, 2022 - 12:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Charities, Health, Politics, Preston Council, Preston News
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The Community Vaccine Champions Programme is aimed at communities most at risk including young people

£185,000 of government funding will be used in Preston to support people most at risk from Covid-19.

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The money comes from the Community Vaccine Champions Programme, which is providing a total of £22.3m funding across areas showing the lowest rates of Covid-19 vaccination uptake. Preston is in the lowest 60 districts in the country.

Preston City Council will use the funding to support communities including people with disabilities, the younger generation, and those from an ethnic minority background.

A report from the Director of Communities and Environment on the Preston City Council website says: “The grant fund is to be utilised to build connectivity and trust in those groups who need it most; empowering individuals to protect both themselves and those around them.”

Read more: Lancashire County Council issue warning to Prestonians about Covid passport scam

Responding to the news, Mel Close, Chief Executive of Disability Equality NW based in Church Street, said: “We’re really pleased to see that Preston City Council has been awarded the funding and the initiatives they’re going to use it for.

“Disabled people are, in the main, very supportive of the vaccine programme and many have already had three doses.

“Some are still reluctant though for various reasons, so to be able to see that there are community champions, with lived experience of disability, sharing their own experiences, in particular around access and impairment related issues regarding the vaccine programme, will help them and their families.”

Read more: South Ribble premises join ‘safe space’ scheme to help disabled people in need

The Foxton Centre based in Avenham supports young people through regular activities and events. CEO Jeff Marsh said: “The Foxton Centre welcomes any efforts to keep people safe during this Covid emergency.”

Cath Coffey, Compliance and Development Manager, added: “Young people would be a group that we would wish to support and encourage to receive the vaccine.

“We would be particularly concerned about those who are disengaged from the education system or those with minimal attendance. We know these individuals have increased in numbers during Covid and we would hope for a community approach to those most disengaged young people.

“We also know there is a low up take in numbers for those who are in specific groups such as the Eastern European community and their families. We work with a number of these vulnerable groups.”

Preston Faith Covenant member Kailash Parekh said: “I believe the funding will provide the much-needed support to members of the community who are at most risk from Covid-19 with resources to manage their lives and wellbeing.”

Short-term targets of the programme include increased vaccine uptake rates and awareness of Community Vaccine Champions in the affected communities.

Read more: Preston and Lancashire residents offered free bus journeys to boost vaccine drive

The aim is to create more trust in official public health messaging and increase confidence to challenge misinformation, ultimately leading to reduced Covid-19 transmission.

The £185,000 funding must be committed by 31 March 2022, but projects can continue to be delivered until July 2022.

More information on how the funding is to be spent will be presented to a Cabinet meeting in February.


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