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Champions help connect communities during the pandemic

Cheshire West and Chester Council’s network of community champions have been helping keep residents safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, sharing important and trusted information with their communities.

Around 350 community champions are now part of the network and these are a mix of both individuals and organisations from all areas of the borough. 

Champions are receiving regular updates from the Council with information they can pass on to their networks, whether that is by email, social media, text messaging or other methods. A useful bank of resources, including graphics, videos and website links, have also been created for them to access.

As well as proving to be an easy way for people to receive trusted information, the network is an opportunity for champions to feedback directly to the Council about any issues they spot in their community.

Regular online events have been hosted by Councillor Louise Gittins, Leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council, starting invaluable discussions about the current challenges and support residents and organisations might need during the pandemic. While many of the events have focused on the latest COVID-19 restrictions, one of them was around mental health and wellbeing and further themed events are planned in the future.

Gus, one of the community champions, said: “I’m 74 and the work I do is keeping my mind in good trim.

“I have more than 750 Twitter followers so I share all COVID-19 information from the Council and NHS on there, Facebook and LinkedIn and my stuff gets well and truly out to everyone I know.

“I also regularly share information with around 90 members of the West Cheshire Mental Health Forum.”

Gill, another resident involved with the champions network, said: “It’s about one-to-one contact rather than impersonal messages.

“We’ve all had to change the way we live and what we can and can’t do.

“I’ve been happy to play a part in getting COVID-19 messages personally to the people I know and volunteer with. They, in turn, have passed them on to others they know.”

Councillor Gittins added: “I can’t thank our amazing community champions enough for all the work they’re doing.

“I always enjoy hosting the online events as it’s uplifting to hear the difference champions are making in their local communities.

“Not only are champions helping share important and trusted information, but the feedback we’re receiving is proving to be invaluable as we look to support our communities in the best way possible during the pandemic.

“I’d definitely encourage others to get involved and become a community champion. It doesn’t matter whether you’re signing up as an individual or organisation as you can share information with any contacts you have.”

The Council is still looking to welcome more community champions to the network. The time commitment is entirely up to champions and how active they want to be with sharing information and advice.

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