Not all heroes wear capes but Shaun Weatherhead does and he’s a social distancing super hero.
Sean, chairman of Huddersfield-based football club Westend Juniors, has an alter ego called UMan who is on a mission to help young people stay fit and healthy.
UMan pulled on his costume and went out visiting young people throughout the pandemic and has since joined Kirklees Council as a Community Champion to go out spreading the word about the vaccination programme in schools.
Uman hopes children will help persuade those reluctant older relatives that getting the vaccine helps everyone stay safe. Here’s where you can get a jab this weekend.
During the first lockdown in March 2020, UMan began his first Covid-19 mission by visiting local communities across Huddersfield to inspire a message of hope, boost families’ morale and improve wellbeing whilst people were experiencing incredibly challenging times.
Then he set up Westend Community Champions where a group of youngsters and their parents – all socially-distanced of course – supported families in need at Christmas.
Donations worth a staggering £60,000 poured in and 1,000 families received Christmas gifts.
Earlier this year UMan found that many families in Huddersfield couldn’t afford the basics such as pens and paper for home-schooling so he helped fill that need too ensuring that learning wasn’t disrupted any more than it already had been.
Shaun said: “UMan is no gimmick, the work he does has a very serious purpose. From the start of the pandemic UMan – which comes from the kids inspirational programme U Can Shine – has visited families and isolated children to provide reassurance in an uncertain period of everyone’s life, visiting thousands across the community.
“The aim now is to inform and support young people to learn about the vaccination programme so that they can take that message home.
“UMan has been a huge hit on the streets and I’d relish the opportunity to visit more schools in Kirklees and be able to speak to thousands of children.”
Clr Carole Pattison, Cabinet Member for Learning, Aspiration and Communities at Kirklees Council, said: “This pandemic has been exceptionally hard for so many people and young people are no exception.
“It’s inspiring the way in which UMan can engage young people in conversation to talk about the importance of staying healthy and looking after their wellbeing.
“I’m extremely proud of the Community Champions programme of work which has seen local groups from our voluntary sector successfully secure funding to increase vaccination take up.
“All of our Community Champions are super heroes but just one of them wears a cape.”
UMan made a surprise visit to Oak Primary School in Crosland Moor and deputy head Sarah Wilson said: “We were excited to be the first school to lead this initiative taking Uman into the classrooms to address the importance of mental health, resilience and confidence.
“As a school we recognise the need for such initiatives in what are extremely challenging times for our children.
“They have endured a lot individually whether that is the loss of a loved one, spending time away from the classroom and their friends or seeing their family being affected financially by the pandemic. The impact has been massive on our children.
“UMan’s visit created a buzz and excitement amongst the children and staff. We look forward to working with him some more in the coming weeks.”