Sheffield community groups could be drafted in to help fight Covid-19

Voluntary and community groups could be asked to help with welfare visits to people with coronavirus, says Sheffield's health chief.

Thursday, 17th September 2020, 4:45 pm

Council bosses are looking at how volunteers could help with preventing and managing outbreaks alongside council and public health staff.

Organisations could help with contact tracing, which would potentially include welfare visits - seeing people in person in communities where there are spikes and encouraging those infected to take a test and self-isolate.

Director of Public Health Greg Fell says groups have well established, trusted relationships in communities and are aware of many vulnerable people.

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Sheffield's Director of Public Health says voluntary organisations could help with contact tracing and encouraging those infected to take a test and self-isolate. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

He says in a report: "We think organisations could potentially support this contact tracing function in some way.

"They may be able to better communicate our advice and guidance, and encourage people to test and self-isolate - such as specific faith, language or age groups.

"The sector hears and sees patterns and trends which may not otherwise be visible.

"Harnessing that intelligence, so that communication and support can be targeted, could make a vital addition to the system.

Sheffield's Director of Public Health Greg Fell

"The need in this next phase is around enabling people to understand the different categories of risk - being very clear about what the restrictions allow and don’t allow and helping people to manage the risk for them and their household.

"The sector can recruit, train and deploy community volunteers to support seldom heard communities.

"Many vulnerable people will require support to isolate for 14 days. That will include persuading people of the ongoing need to isolate, as well as reassurance, emotional, practical and financial help.

"Organisations are well placed to use relationships and trust already in place to work with communities.

"They have the infrastructure and skills to work with people locally and the flexibility to adapt and provide what is needed."

The council would provide organisations with immediate, short term funding but Mr Fell adds: "We're conscious that we didn’t know the extent of the support that might be needed and we may not be aware of all of the groups that are active as many are new and do not have an existing relationship with the council.

"These gaps in knowledge would make it difficult to make any concrete recommendations. Organisations have been asked to complete an expression of interest form as part of a purely information gathering exercise."

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