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Living Well’s agility helps stem covid tide

When Rochdale hit the headlines for some of the highest levels of covid in the country, Michelle Duffy Living Well’s Service Manager cleared her diary so Living Well could play its part in helping tackle a new wave of covid transmission.

That’s when Michelle and her team’s creative approach to working in partnership came into its own. Joining local people, public health, council staff, the voluntary sector, community and faith leaders, Living well pledged to help run covid awareness pop-up roadshows across the borough over the coming days.

Michelle said: “As soon as I left the meeting I gave a shout out for staff and community champions to go into local communities to do street-level awareness raising. They stepped up and took it on – they were amazing. We did a risk assessment with them all and by the following morning I was down at Sports Direct buying them duffle bags. Working over the weekend we made up PPE resource bags the team could use to hand out to public at roadshows and on the streets.”

“Over a week we organised 16 outreach sessions across the townships in Rochdale. Rain, hail and shine the team was outside Cash and Carry’s, supermarkets, pubs, mosques, churches, local takeaways and barbers. They also toured the streets, even talking through people’s windows when they were too scared to come to the door. Over 3000 masks were given out to people and their families.

It’s meant difficult conversations at times.

“The media gave the impression that the rising number of covid cases were in Asian communities. Some took the view that ‘it’s not my problem’ and many people in Heywood and Middleton were surprised to find out that there were outbreaks in their towns. But because of the team’s local knowledge and the trust they have built up they were able to challenge these assumptions and get the message across that it is everybody’s responsibility.”

It’s also helped build new and stronger relationships.

“We are proud that we were able to offer a focus to help drive to down infections. Council leaders and local counsellors and GP’s were among the many who joined us out and about in our communities. I am also immensely proud of the team and our community champions for their hard work and perseverance.”