To consider the attached report.
The Senior Community Engagement Officer, Patrick Arnold gave a presentation to the Select Committee, Annual review of work undertaken by the Community, Culture and Wellbeing Team in developing the Epping Forest Community Champions project.
The Community Champions programme formed part of the Council’s Corporate Plan to further enhance partnership working with the voluntary sector in order to help build community capacity and resilience across the district, enabling communities to support themselves.
Aims and Objectives
The vision of the programme was:
· To build on the skills and knowledge of local people to create happy, friendly and healthy communities.
The aim of the programme aim was:
· To bring together like minded people from across the district to share ideas and experiences from their communities to improve the health and wellbeing of local people.
· To recruit Community Champions from across the district.
What do Champions do?
· Make contact with people living in the community. This could be through friends and family or through attending meetings of local groups and clubs;
· Listen to people to find out their needs, this could include topics such as Loneliness and Social isolation, physical activity, mental health and emotional wellbeing;
· Outreach to the community to promote uptake of services within the local area;
· Gentlyencourage people to take up healthier lifestyles;
· Signpost people to services and make referrals e.g. exercise classes, employment services, local events, transport links etc.; and
· Undertake campaigns/projects to promote health awareness and collect findings on specific health issues affecting the area.
The Epping Forest Community Champions programme aimed to build on the skills and knowledge of local people to create happy, friendly and healthy communities.
People who were:
· Passionate about the area they lived in;
· Able to build strong community connections;
· Happy to support fun days and community events;
· Willing to share information about local services in the area;
· Able to promote useful health improvement information within their community.
The aim of the Culture and Wellbeing Team was to recruit 18 Champions, one from each area of the Epping Forest District.
To date 17 Champions had been recruited from:
· Buckhurst Hill;
· Theydon Bois; and
· Waltham Abbey.
Community Champions had connected with over 1000 people in the community since the beginning of the project. they had promoted and played a key role in the delivery of the district’s Stay Well This Winter and Senior Safety Day Events.
Community Champions had attended EFDC workshops and partner focus groups, a number had attended the EFDC Digital Buddies training and would support future digital inclusion projects. They have promoted the Essex County ‘United in Kind’ social media campaign and assisted with the development of the Social Isolation and loneliness awareness sessions.
Champions have also attended local clubs and meetings to deliver presentations to raise awareness of CHW activities and signpost people to services in the district.
Training and Support
· The Community Champions have attended the relevant EFDC courses in Safeguarding and Dementia Friends.
· They have attended External/Partner training such as Voluntary Sector, Frontline, Community Transport and J9.
· In-house accredited training by the Royal Society of Public Health.
· Regular Group meetings with Community Champions;
· 1-2-1 support and supervision;
· Regular communication via email or phone; and
· A Community Champions social media group.
The Senior Community Engagement Officer introduced two members of the Community Champions Group and asked them to give a brief overview of what they do for their community.
Sue was a Community Champion from Theydon Bois, she advised that she had lived in the District for 30 years, 9 years in Epping and 21 in Theydon Bois. She had previously been on the Theydon Bois Parish Council for 4 years. She had seen a poster recruiting Community Champions and had now been involved with the Group for 18 months.
Sue advised that she had attended many of the training courses, one she had attended was bereavement café at St Clare Hospice. She had now set up a monthly bereavement café in Theydon Bois which had become popular, it enabled people to talk about their own loss and helped others that were recently bereaved.
Sue had been involved in fundraising for the village and had helped raise £1,000 for a defibrillator, which had saved a life of a man who was having a heart attack, in January this year. She had also been involved in setting up:
· Christmas Wreath Making;
· Soup making;
· Regular awareness sessions;
· Life walks; and
This was just a small amount of the activities Sue was involved in.
The Community Champions regularly socialised together and shared ideas and experiences with each other.
Eve was a Community Champion in Loughton. She had been involved for just under a year by way of noticing recruitment leaflets in her local library. Eve worked part time for the DWP and was able to give her spare time to being involved with the community.
Eve stated at that time she had been on a quest to set up community drop off points throughout the Epping Forest district, with the help and support of the community to assist her by donating specific products as and when they could, for a project she had set up. The project was called the Red Box Project Epping Forest to which had now been renamed the First Stop Project. She then read the leaflet that she had picked up about becoming a Community Champion and how a Community Champion could support their community in a health perspective and in other ways, this is what she had been trying to set up. Eve decided to ring the contact person on the leaflet, to which she received a very positive and warm welcome and this made a difference to how she engaged and became involved as a Community Champion.
Once of the first projects Eve engaged on was setting up collection and delivery of sanitary and hygiene products to take into schools and distribute.
Eve had become involved with the Rainbow Trust, a charity who support families who had a child with a life threatening or terminal illness.
She attended regular workshops and attended Community Champion meetings to socialise with other CC sharing ideas, suggestions and information with each other.
The Senior Community Engagement Officer highlighted areas of future development that the team would be working on:
· Continue campaign to recruit champions from all areas of the Epping Forest District targeting areas with no Community Champion representation;
· Work with Community Champions to develop community initiatives within their areas by listening to community needs;
· Apply for funding to initiate community lead projects;
· Continue with the training programme and support for Champions to enable them to successfully fulfil their role within the community;
· Promote the Champions and what they can offer within their local areas via social media/websites, posters, local clubs and events, local council/ partnership meetings and networks; and
· Continue to measure the impact of the Community Champions.
Members Involvement / Support
The Senior Community Engagement Officer asked Members to promote the work of the Community Champions by:
· Raising awareness of the Community Champions project and its positive impact in helping and supporting the community;
· To help identify any local people who could be a Community Champion; and
· To contact Members when a Community Champion was recruited in their area to build stronger community links.
The meeting was then opened up to questions from members.
Councillor McIvor stated that he thought this was an excellent project and asked how much time a Community Champion would need to commit to. North Weald did not have a Community Champion and he would be happy to promote this project. The Senior Community Engagement Officer advised that they asked for a couple of hours a week, although some do a lot more.
Looking at areas with no Community Champions the team were working to put on some events around loneliness and social isolation and to encourage the work of the Community Champions to hopefully recruit Champions in those areas.
Councillor J M Whitehouse stated that other organisations do the same sort of work in the district and asked how they could be sure that there was no duplication in the same area. The Senior Community Engagement Officer advised that they worked with other organisations in the district to ensure that they did not duplicate work.
Councillor Wixley stressed how important it was to get the message out to the Town and Parish Councils. The Senior Community Engagement Officer stated that from the beginning information was sent out to all Town and Parish Councils in the district.
Councillor Rackham added that as many of the Councillors were also Town and Parish Councillors that they should distribute the leaflets and make them more aware of the Community Champions. The Senior Community Engagement Officer stated that he could distribute as much material as the Councillors wanted and that it would be very helpful for the Councillors to make the Parish and Town Councils aware of the roles of the Community Champions.
The Chairman asked if it was in the budget to advertise in the local press. The Senior Community Engagement Officer advised moving forward there was a possibility that there was a budget for advertising.
The Chairman asked what was the average age of a Community Champion and have you thought about going to nursery’s and infant schools to advertise. The average age of the Community Champions was between 40-50 although we do have one who was 22. He also added that they had not approached schools to advertise but thought this was a good idea.
Vanessa Gayton, Team Manager, Culture and Community stated that there was so much scope with this programme, presently it was in the embryonic stage but there was money in the budget for advertising and publicity.
The Chairman thanked the officers and Community Champions for their presentation and for attending the Select Committee.