Work is now underway to deliver Covid-19 vaccinations across the country in what is being called the biggest immunisation programme in history. Staff and volunteers from the NHS, local authority and voluntary sector are all involved in a combined effort to bring closer the end of the current pandemic through protecting our population from the virus. A call is now going out across Sandwell to ensure that every person in our borough has the opportunity to benefit from this vaccination.
We know from experience that take up of seasonal flu vaccinations in Sandwell is often lower than other areas and that several challenges get in the way of residents accessing vaccinations. We also know that our local Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) is excellently placed to help with the vaccination effort – in fact, the involvement of VCS organisations will be absolutely essential to ensuring that everyone in Sandwell understands the opportunity that vaccination presents and can take up the offer.
SCVO, Sandwell Council and Sandwell Public Health would like to support your VCS organisation to get involved. We know many community groups and voluntary organisations are already doing what they can to encourage, inform and support residents accessing vaccinations and others are making plans to do so. We are particularly looking to engage our faith and community leaders, who are able to reach those in our communities who are more vulnerable to Covid-19.
Activities vary widely, but can include:-
• Proactive calling or writing to service users or local community members encouraging take-up of the vaccine, or doing this in the course of current activities
• Culturally appropriate messaging or sharing information about vaccinations in different languages
• Practical help to support people accessing the vaccination programme
• Focus groups and consultation with the communities to ensure that issues and fears about the vaccine or Covid-19 can be fed back.
To ensure no residents are missed out, we are looking to form an accurate picture of what VCS organisations across Sandwell are doing, or are planning to do, to support vaccination take-up. Consequently, SCVO would appreciate hearing from you about your activities – specifically what you are doing/ have done, how many people will be/ have been reached, and who your target audience is. Please email us your information at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To support this, a new strand of the current Vision 2030 grants programme has been created which will enable applications to be made for small grants which can meet expenses (which are not already being met by existing funding) for future planned activities. For further information, please send a brief outline of your plans and expenses requests to Liz Webster at email@example.com.
Sandwell Public Health team remain on hand as ever also to support with information, guidance and resources for your organisation, staff and volunteers. Please contact Katie Deeley at Katie_Deeley@sandwell.gov.uk for further information.