It’s been almost three months since the Communities of Interest network was established,  in partnership with Voluntary Action Leeds (VA-L), Healthwatch and Leeds City Council, to support a network of organisations working amongst communities where people may experience additional challenges and barriers to support and provision during Covid-19.

Building on trusted relationships with the BME Hub and Migration Partnership as well as community-based ‘link’ organisations such as Advonet, Basis, Barca, Carers Leeds, Feel Good Factor, Leeds Women’s Aid, Leeds Society for Deaf and Blind, and others. Through regular communication, the network has helped to support the flow of information to people in marginalised communities and those who are most at risk if they contract Covid. This has also enabled us to hear back the issues across all communities of interest, including exploring the experience of intersecting identities.
We are capturing data and stories through ongoing member outreach; involvement in Local Care Partnerships and through the #PositivePartnerships social media campaign, to keep a track of our local response and impact. This currently feeds into the bronze communities volunteering group and to the silver Shielding Cohort meetings, as well as to the Health and Wellbeing Board through PEG. Our work is also joined up with the wider #TogetherLeeds approach, which includes the Leeds Shielding Support Team and area hubs.
The impact of the work so far has ranged from immediate practical impacts such as helping Leeds GATE securing traveller site Wi-Fi access to reduce digital exclusion; raising Covid test site language and physical barriers that helped ensure the set-up of the walk-to Covid Testing site; working with Health and Wellbeing Board partners to establish a Health Inequalities Working Group to reduce inequalities, resetting to a stronger fairer, more equal Leeds; strengthening our partnership working with other infrastructure organisations and helping people working within communities to feel better supported and connected.
You can read more about the network on the Forum Central website here.