Across Gorton, Levenshulme and Whalley Range, a group of local volunteers have been out in the community, answering questions about coronavirus (COVID-19) and helping people to book their vaccination appointments. On Wednesday 28 July, the COVID-19 vaccine safety message went sky-high as a billboard of those volunteers was unveiled.
The volunteers are well known and respected local people, even boasting local MP, Afzah Khan. They have been trained to become Covid Connectors to build trust in the COVID-19 vaccine and assist people with accessing accurate information. They have tackled digital exclusion, which has been a barrier for some people to access the vaccine, through face-to-face conversations in the community helping people book appointments.
The Covid Connectors programme is funded by Manchester Local Care Organisation – the provider of community health and adult social care in Manchester – and run in partnership with Levenshulme Inspire CiC. The programme was started in March 2021 and since then, the volunteers have spoken to hundreds of people and helped to book appointments. The team also has some tech-savvy members who have been posting across social media platforms, promoting accurate messages, tailored to their local community.
The Covid Connectors are local people who want to keep their local community safe from COVID-19 through vaccination. They have helped to influence people in the community that may not trust messages from mainstream sources. As they are familiar faces, we had professional photographs taken of four of our volunteers, which have been used to create, posters, flyers, pop-up banners and, now, even a billboard.
The billboard on Stockport Road was unveiled on Wednesday 28 July with a crowd of Covid Connectors to celebrate.
Dawn Harris, Health Development Coordinator of Chorlton, Whalley Range and Fallowfield for Manchester Local Care Organisation said of the unveiling:
The covid connectors have been absolutely essential in helping us to reach out to diverse communities. We are so grateful to them for all their hard work and continued support.
Charlotte Jones, Volunteer Coordinator of Levenshulme Inspire CiC also said:
I love the diversity and community that this project has brought. It really has been a case of everyone working together to achieve something great that benefits every single community. We will continue to provide support, factual information and encouragement using volunteers that people can put their trust into.