About Communities of Interest – Covid-19
Forum Central is working in partnership with Voluntary Action Leeds, Healthwatch and Leeds City Council to support this network of community-based organisations in order to address inequalities.
Building on trusted relationships with local community organisations and the richness and diversity of our Third Sector in Leeds, we are working with operationally connected community-based organisations to support the flow of information to communities facing additional challenges during Covid-19. The communities we are reaching include people with: a learning disability and/or Autism, mobility issues, mental health issues, or long-term conditions; people from Black Asian and Minority Communities; young people and care leavers; gypsies and travellers; people facing high levels of inequality and people living in deprived communities; people leaving prison; people who are Deaf or Blind; unpaid carers; people experiencing domestic violence; women and maternity; sex workers; men; people experiencing drug or alcohol issues; Refugees, Aylum Seekers and Migrant communities; homeless people; older people; people from the LGBT+ community; single parents.
Through this we aim to ensure that information and support relating to Covid-19 can reach everyone including people in the most marginalised and vulnerable communities in Leeds.
There is a lot of information about Covid-19, including health and care information, volunteering support information and other messages which can be overwhelming and we know some people and communities experience additional barriers to accessing and using this.
Importantly, we are hearing about the queries, issues and resilience experienced across all communities of interest, and exploring the experience of intersecting identities. This will enable us feedback to decision makers across our Leeds system to respond to current challenges, but also help develop a future system which is both personalised and responsive to the needs of all communities of Leeds.
What do we mean by ‘Communities of Interest’?
‘Communities of Interest’ are groups of people who share an identity, for example people with a learning disability, or those who share an experience, for example the homeless community. We have initially identified the following communities of interest who experience additional barriers to communication, however we will continue identify additional groups.
What we do
Working with Voluntary Action Leeds and other partners we are identifying ‘Link’ and ‘Support’ organisations who can play a key role in the flow of information to and from communities. This might be directly or with other ‘Link organisations.’
Our priority is to ensure reach though the third sector to people facing high levels of inequality and people living in communities seen as more deprived.
Organisations in the network are asked to:
- Be a source of specialist advice, guidance, signposting and communication for others in the system. This includes being a resource to the Ward Volunteer Hub Managers via the Central Helpline, if for example there are questions about how best to meet the cultural or practical needs
- Be a link partner in the communication network to help get info out to people
- Disseminate information to the people from their community of Interest contacts and partners through emails, social media and phone calls to help get info out to citizens
- Feed information up through us about barriers, issues and disproportionate or differential impacts of Covid-19 so we can keep the city networks informed and so we can support and respond to need
- Let us know of practical or financial support we can offer to support communities of Interest
Feeding in to key decision Makers
We are gathering the experiences, concerns and barriers as well as examples of resilience from communities and organisations that we hear through this work and in partnership with Healthwatch.
A weekly report will be used to raise these issues with key health and local authority decision makers, funders and others who need to hear how it is in communities in order to ensure that in Leeds we meet the access, information and practical support needs highlighted for communities of interest, and that people are not disproportionately affected by the Covid-19 crisis. These reports have fed into Leeds city council communities and also public health reports around health inequalities.
We are also raising very practical issues including accessible format of information; clear messages that people can have confidence in so they understand that help is available to everyone as well as who does and does not need to be ‘shielding‘ themselves at home; digital connectivity; appropriate information on Covid Testing sites for people who may need help to understand the communications or lack the car transport or phone data required to be tested.
We give twice weekly feedback to shielding meetings, particularly looking at how communities of interest organisations and networks can support people who are shielding to have clear information, better provision and access culturally appropriate support.
We have also offered support and links to expertise, for example around people who are deaf/hard of hearing; mental health responses from the central call line
Join up with the wider #TogetherLeeds approach, includes:
Leeds Shielding Support Team – The Communities of Interest Network is part of this team
The network will connect with Healthwatch’s #WeeklyCheckIn programme designed to hear, week by week, what people are experiencing and bring together the intelligence from all the different parts of the health and care People Voice system is hearing including from PALS, Complaints, other engagement activities. Real-time intelligence will help make the city respond to needs and put measures in place.
Leeds Community Care Volunteer Hub – Leeds City Council have set up a central contact number 0113 378 1877 to take calls and enquiries from individuals, groups and organisations who either need access to help and support or can offer help and support. Calls are triaged according to need to ensure that people get help locally or offer help locally.
Community Care Volunteering – The Community Care Volunteering programme brings together people who are able to help with tasks such as shopping deliveries, preparing meals or making check-in phone calls with those who are self-isolating or in need of support. It is being run by Leeds City Council and Voluntary Action Leeds (VA-L) to ensure systems are in place to care for people and communities during the spread of coronavirus, known officially as Covid-19 and to address likely gaps in social care for children, families and vulnerable adults across Leeds.
Ward Volunteer Hub managers receive requests from the central contact team for local support and co-ordinate requests from local organisations. They also distribute information and advice and other resources in the locality and link with the Emergency Food Provision available for families and individuals who are experiencing difficulties in accessing food due to financial difficulties or self-isolation.
Forum Central is working in partnership with Voluntary Action Leeds (VA-L), Healthwatch and Leeds City Council to support this network of community-based organisations.
Communities of Interest news and events
Communities of Interest – Strategic Information
Please contact us if you would like a copy of most recent report.
Communities of Interest Link Organisations
|Community of Interest||Link Organisation|
|People with mobility issues||Forum Central|
|People with mental health issues including specific focus on men||Forum Central|
|People with Long Term conditions||Forum Central|
|Young People and Care Leavers||Youth Watch /Young Lives Leeds|
Voice Influence &Change Team, LCC
|People with a Physical or Sensory Impairment||Leeds Society for Deaf & Blind People|
|People leaving prison||Turning Lives Around|
|People from Black Asian and Minority Communities including Roma people||The BME Hub, Voluntary Action Leeds|
|Refugees, Asylum Seekers, Migrant Communities||Leeds City Council Migration Team, Communities|
|People with a Learning Disability and/or Autism||Forum Central|
|Unpaid Carers||Carers Leeds|
|People who experience Domestic Violence||Leeds Women’s Aid|
|Women and maternity||Women's Lives Leeds|
|People Drug or Alcohol Issues||BARCA/Forward Leeds|
|Gypsy, Traveller||Leeds GATE|
|Homeless People / NFA||Beacon Leeds|
|People from the LGBT+ community||Yorkshire MESMAC|
|Older People||Leeds Older People’s Forum|
|People facing high levels of inequality and people living in deprived communities.||Citizens Advice|
|Men’s Health||Forum Central|
Information & Resources
Communities of Interest Weekly Email Updates
Since mid-April, we have been sharing weekly email updates with the Communities of Interest network, including link organisations and other individuals who are interested in relevant news. The emails feature the very latest news and information in relation to Coronavirus and Leeds, and resources for organisations to use and share with the people and communities they work with. You can view the email updates via the following links:
Other useful resources:
Mental Health Emerging Themes in Leeds health & care third sector organisations during COVID-19: April to July 2020: An account of the emerging mental health needs, organisational challenges, and the sector’s capacity to support people across Leeds throughout the pandemic during April to July 2020.