Sixty councils and voluntary groups across England will receive a share of £23 million in government funding to support those most at risk from COVID-19, boost vaccine take-up and tackle the spread of misinformation.
The funding will be used to establish a network of ‘Community Champions’ to deliver a range of measures to protect those most at risk, including older and disabled people, and people from ethnic minority backgrounds.
The Community Champions will tap into their local networks to offer advice about COVID-19 and the vaccines. Champions will also work with councils to identify barriers to accessing accurate information and to provide tailored support, such as phone calls for people who are digitally excluded, helplines, and linking to GP surgeries.
The funding will also support areas to tackle misinformation and encourage take-up as the vaccination programme expands across the country.
This allocation is part of over £7.9 billion government funding provided to councils to help them support their communities during the pandemic.
Announcing the funding, communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said: “It is vital that everyone has access to accurate and up to date information about COVID-19. False information about COVID-19 vaccines could cost lives.
“Today’s funding will help councils and community groups expand some of the excellent work already underway and reach out to their communities to ensure they have the information they need and get their questions answered. Ultimately this funding will help save lives.”
Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock said: “Throughout the pandemic, our priority has been to protect the most vulnerable. It is vital higher-risk groups are able to access the advice and information they need whether it’s about testing, accessing the NHS or the benefits of a lifesaving vaccine.
“I’m delighted to see further funding going to local areas to support their communities during this challenging time, and I’m thankful for the continued expertise and dedication of community leaders in spreading the word about our historic vaccination rollout programme across the country.”