Are you a community champion?

By Dr Wirin Bhatiani

“Neighbours, everybody needs good neighbours”. So goes the theme tune to a popular TV soap opera.

The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted just how important community is.

Bolton’s community volunteers and organisations have played a vital role in looking after and supporting our most vulnerable residents during the last year.

We know that there are communities in Bolton which face a number of challenges such as poor housing, low income, educational achievement, transport and health problems – all of which are interlinked.

And there is a significant risk that they may be left even further behind because of the disproportionate impact the coronavirus pandemic is having on our deprived communities.

One of the key ways to make sure that this does not happen is to ensure that we – that’s decision makers, service providers and others – listen to, understand and address the needs of all people in our diverse communities.

For some time the CCG, Bolton Council, Royal Bolton Hospital, Greater Manchester Mental Health Foundation Trust (GMMH) and the community and voluntary sector have been working together to do just that.

Community champions are an increasingly important part of this work, and a good example are Bolton’s Diabetes Community Champions.

This project was developed because people from Black and South Asian communities are at an increased risk of diabetes and its long-term complications such as heart and kidney disease, amputations and blindness.

Bolton’s Diabetes Community Champions are volunteers who raise awareness of diabetes and the charity Diabetes UK in their local community. They help people to understand their risk of developing diabetes, their condition and what they can do to manage it.

We all want people to live well for longer in their own homes and empower them to take control of their own health and wellbeing. Community champions – in many guises – are helping people to do just that.

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