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Our impact and journey so far.

The Community Health Champions Program originated from and is now an expansion of the Community Vaccine Champions Program. On 20 December 2021, the Minister for Communities announced that the Department for Leveling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) would provide funding to support those communities who have been shown to experience the lowest rates of COVID-19 vaccine uptake, through a new scheme called ‘Community Vaccine Champions

The Community Vaccine Champions scheme provided targeted help to those areas and communities facing the greatest challenges in relation to vaccine uptake. Recognizing that local authorities, their partners and local people are best placed to decide the right approach for their communities, it was intended to be co-designed locally, to respond to the needs of a specific place. Participating areas were able to increase resources for both existing and new activities. Local authorities utilized champions to build connectivity and trust in those groups who needed it most, including those from inclusion health groups, young people and ethnic minority communities; empowering individuals to protect both themselves and those around them.

The Reading Community Vaccine Champions (CVC) Programme was funded by the DLUHC in early 2022. Programme initiation took place in January 2022 and included the production of a delivery plan that was agreed with DLUHC. Phase 1 of the programme ran from April 2022 until the 31st of July 2022. Following this, phase 2 of the CVC programme encompassed the extension of activities granted by the DLUHC, for all aspects of the programme, until October 31st, 2022.

The Reading programme aimed to increase vaccination uptake, increase visibility, awareness, and interaction of Community Vaccine Champions within the local area and increase the reach and trust of public health messaging for target communities. To achieve this, six workstreams were formed, derived from the national aims of the programme, and local data and needs, with the following key achievements:


• Increase in dose 1 COVID-19 vaccinations by more than 300% from the month prior to delivery of programme activities – March 2022, (371 vaccinations) to April 2022 (1563 vaccinations).

• Public Health in partnership with Alliance for Cohesion and Racial Equality (ACRE) recruited and trained 50 community vaccine champions from communities with low uptake rates.

• 61 people were trained, with 80.8% of participants reported feeling confident in having conversations about the COVID-19 vaccination, with 70% saying they felt confident in having conversations about health and wellbeing more generally.

• 51 engagement events, including 33 pop-up vaccination opportunities were delivered across Reading. There was successful outreach to vulnerable groups including homeless/rough sleepers, substance misusers, refugees, and to locations with low vaccine uptake including Kennet Island, Palmer Park, South Reading, hosted at community venues such as The Warehouse, Southcott Community Centre, Coley Community Centre, and ACRE.

• 10 small grants were awarded to local community and voluntary sector organizations, enhancing their work to improve health outcomes for their communities.

In Autumn 2023, the Community Vaccine Champions program morphed into the Community Health Champions Program. The Community Health Champions are to play a central role in sharing evidence-based health insights within their communities around health and wellbeing, including local opportunities for vaccination. In Continuation of the Community Health Champions (CHC) program, CHCs will support community health and wellbeing events and work with the ICB vaccine inequalities group to support with signposting NHS approved and Public Health approved information and services. The programme will also help deliver community health and wellbeing events to improve access to health service and vaccine information in addition to creating co-produced, culturally competent communications including interviews with health professionals.

The programme also aims to Identify ongoing barriers experienced by those communities facing health Inequalities and priority groups, building on the findings from the previous Community Vaccine Champion programme, and share these insights across the system. To become a Community Health Champion, an individual would have to undergo a short training provided for all CHC volunteers who wish to join the Community Health Champions program, facilitated by one of our partnered organizations, New Directions. In summary, The Community Health Champions programme aims to empower and strengthen communities to enhance decision-making.