Community champions are to be sent out to combat misinformation over the Covid-19 vaccine – and help save lives.
Kirklees Council is offering grants to community organisations who can spread the message to hard-to-reach groups.
Funding for the Community Champions scheme has been made available by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and the council wants to reach people disproportionately impacted by Covid-19.
Those groups include people with disabilities and those from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities and also people identified as unpaid carers.
Working with “trusted local voices” the council wants to build confidence in community testing and the vaccine programme and better understand why people are hesitant or sceptical about vaccines.
Community organisations have until Monday, March 1 to apply for significant funding. On the council application form it says “community champions” who go out to speak to people can be paid up to £10 an hour.
Round One of the grant scheme ends on Monday but a second round will go live in the next few weeks with smaller grants of up to £1,000 available. Community groups can apply for this money to develop their own targeted campaigns.
Through the Community Champions scheme voluntary organisations will deliver a wide range of measures to protect those most at risk – building trust, communicating accurate health information and ultimately helping to save lives.
The community champions will tap into their local networks to provide advice about Covid-19 and the vaccines.
Council leader Clr Shabir Pandor said: “Since the Coronavirus outbreak earlier last year we have been working extremely hard to protect all of our communities and specifically those who are most at risk.
“It quickly became clear that Covid-19 disproportionately impacted specific groups and this funding will help reduce infection rates, increase vaccine take up and save lives.
“Every single vaccine matters and it’s therefore extremely important that our residents are accessing accurate public health guidance.
“Misinformation can cost lives and our community champions will work with the high-risk groups to further build understanding on the importance of the free vaccine.
“No one knows our Kirklees communities better than those organisations who are at the heart of them and the local staff and volunteers that work in them.
“The scheme will also be huge positive in terms of reducing the financial impact which charities and community groups have faced as a result of the lockdown and tier restrictions.”