A borough-wide network of community champions to tackle health inequalities in Brent has been announced by the council.
The Brent Health Matters programme aims to address health inequalities – which are avoidable, unfair and systematic differences in health between different people. The pandemic has not only exposed health inequalities, but in many cases made them worse.
The first wave of coronavirus arrived early in Brent and the borough was hit hard. The virus particularly affected deprived areas with a high proportion of BAME residents, with Church End and Alperton seeing the highest numbers of cases and deaths in the whole of London.
Work has already begun in Church End and Alperton with volunteers taken on as Community Champions to help connect local people with services that can improve their health and also to understand better what help and support people need. (See the case studies below for examples)
Cllr Neil Nerva, Brent’s Cabinet Member for Public Health, Culture and Leisure, said:
The Brent Health Matters programme is a joined up approach from Brent Council, NHS partners and the community to tackle health inequalities.
Community Champions sit at the heart of the programme – helping us understand the local needs and perspectives of these communities. We’ve already seen some great examples of acting on feedback from the community, including the launch of a health and wellbeing telephone advice line, myth busting communications, PPE supplies and events such as our webinars about the COVID vaccine.
Recently, Brent Council successfully bid for a share of Community Champions funding from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. Brent received the highest share of all the 60 councils that were allocated funding across the country, with an award of £733,333.
Cllr Nerva explained:
With the additional funding we will be able to rollout the programme from two wards to the whole of the borough.
This will see us recruit and train up to 40 paid Health Educators and launch a grants programme for community groups and individuals to develop new and innovative ways of addressing health inequalities.
We will also be able to develop a rolling programme of mental health and wellbeing awareness training and conduct a series of outreach days in our communities.