Community champions appointed to ease health inequalities across Brent

Umit Janil

Umit Janil is one of Brent's Community Champions in Alperton - Credit: Brent Council

Community champions have been appointed by the council to tackle health inequalities in Brent.

The Brent Health Matters programme aims to address health inequalities between different people which have been exposed by the pandemic.

As Alperton and Church End experienced the highest number of deaths in the country at the start of the pandemic, community champions have been sent there first.

Umit Janil, who lives in Alperton, is the champion for that area - he helps connect local people with services that can improve their health and is also looking to better understand what help and support people need.

"There are 13 champions in Alperton and Church End where the worst effects of Covid were. It allows us to connect with the community," he said.

"Vaccinations are pretty big at the moment and part of our role is to myth bust, especially with South Asian communities who might be wary."

He added: "Mental health is really at the forefront of what has been happening in lockdown. Apart from loneliness, people have lost their jobs or are having to play multiple roles in their homes, which is taking its toll."

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Cllr Neil Nerva, Brent’s lead member for public health, culture and leisure, said: “The Brent Health Matters programme is a joined-up approach from Brent Council, NHS partners and the community to tackle health inequalities.

“Community champions sit at the heart of the programme – helping us understand the local needs and perspectives of these communities.

"We’ve already seen some great examples of acting on feedback from the community, including the launch of a health and wellbeing telephone advice line, myth busting communications, PPE supplies and events, such as our webinars about the Covid vaccine.”

Recently, Brent Council successfully bid for a share of community champions funding from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

Brent received the highest share of all the 60 councils which were allocated funding across the country, with an award of £733,333.

“With the additional funding, we will be able to roll out the programme from two wards to the whole of the borough,” explained Cllr Nerva.

“This will see us recruit and train up to 40 paid health educators and launch a grants programme for community groups and individuals to develop new and innovative ways of addressing health inequalities."

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