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NEWS ROUNDUP: Leeds vaccination minibus and Safer Communities Fund



The NHS has teamed up with Leeds City Council, and local voluntary and community organisations to launch a vaccination minibus service.

The first stop will be Maud Avenue in Beeston. People will only be able to have the vaccine if they’ve received a text message from their GP practice inviting them to the vaccination minibus.

Healthcare professionals will be joined by people from local community organisations and volunteers to encourage people to have their vaccine. This will be an opportunity for people to discuss any concerns they may have on the vaccine.

Dr Kashif Sarwar, GP and Clinical Director for Beeston Primary Care Network, said: “We decided to use a mobile service to try to encourage people from the local community to take up their vaccine.

“Hopefully delivering the vaccine in a location that people are familiar with and feel comfortable attending will help encourage more patients to attend. We’re listening to feedback from our local communities and are doing what we can to address some of the issues being raised.

“Having healthcare professionals and people from the local voluntary and community organisations will give local patients an opportunity to come and talk to us, especially if they have particular concerns on the vaccine.

“We know there’s a lot of misinformation on social platforms, but we want patients to come and talk to us, so that they’re getting trusted and reliable information.”

Sam Prince, Executive Director of Operations for the Leeds Covid Vaccination Programme, said: “It’s important for us to look at how we can make it as easy as possible for people to get their vaccinations. We’re looking at innovative ways on how we can increase the uptake of the vaccine and having the vaccination minibus is one of them.

“We want patients to understand how the vaccine will protect them against the disease and reduce their risk of becoming seriously unwell. So, when you receive the text message from your GP practice inviting you to the mobile vaccination minibus, please take up your invite.”

“I’m proud to be leading on the Leeds Vaccination Programme, we have embedded the team Leeds approach in all our vaccination work. All partners across the city including NHS organisations, Leeds City Council, universities in Leeds, voluntary and community organisations are coming together as we continue to vaccinate priority groups one to nine, in line with the recommendations from the Joint Committee for Vaccinations & Immunisations (JCVI).”

Councillor Salma Arif, Executive Member for Health and Wellbeing at Leeds City Council, said: “I’m proud to be part of a city that is constantly looking at innovative ways to increase the uptake of the vaccine. This approach is an opportunity for people in Beeston to have the vaccine in an area they’re familiar with.

“If you do receive the text message from your GP practice, I’d urge you to attend the mobile vaccination minibus. Having the vaccine is our best hope for returning to normal life. If you have questions or you’re unsure about the vaccine, there will be healthcare professionals and people from the community who will be able to address any concerns you have about the vaccine.”

For further information about the COVID-19 vaccine, visit www.nhs.uk/CovidVaccine.

A total of £3.77m has been shared by 827 projects as the final Safer Communities Fund grants are distributed under the PCC.

It is estimated by the time the final projects finish, nearly 243,000 people will have been positively impacted by the fund.

Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), was the first PCC to launch the now ground-breaking multi-million pound Safer Communities Fund back in 2014 made up from the Proceeds of Crime and has consistently lobbied Government to see more of this funding secured by police and prosecutors returned to communities and police locally.

Since then 21 grant rounds have been run, including an extraordinary one last year to support those badly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown.

The final £3,771,697.94 figure was achieved at a virtual awards and celebration event held yesterday evening (MON 22/03) where a further 33 projects received a share of £176,272.82 in funding.

The latest round of the fund had a theme of “supporting communities’’ with a view to helping those most in need, particularly children, young people and older people, including victims and those harmed by crime.

Funded projects include:

  • The NSPCC in Bradford for their “InCtrl” project - a group work programme to work with children and young people to prevent sexual abuse online.
  • Northern Powerhouse Boxing Academy in Calderdale for their “12 Months of Self Defence” project - Led by an all-female coaching team, the project aims to empower young people especially women and girls through learning self-defence and confidence building skills.
  • Leeds Women's Aid towards their online live chat service which provides women and families affected by domestic violence and abuse (DV&A) an additional way to seek advice discreetly and confidentially.
  • Ultimate Sport Project in Kirklees who will offer sports, music, self-defence, and other youth associated activities, delivered by positive role models, with a view to steering young people away from gangs.
  • Wakefield Safeguarding Children Partnership for their “Mental Health First Aid” project -  delivering an internationally recognised accredited training course, designed to teach people how to spot the signs and symptoms of mental ill health in young people and provide help on a first aid basis.

The awards will be the PCC’s last round due to the election of a West Yorkshire Mayor in May who will then take on the fund.

Mark said he was incredibly proud of what the fund had achieved: “The Safer Communities Fund has helped so many groups working within their communities tackling issues such as domestic abuse, hate crime and anti-social behaviour. Things that really matter to people on the ground and are sometimes best tackled by those same people.”

The fund provides cash of up to £6000 to help voluntary, community groups, charities and partners keep their communities safe and feeling safe. Grants are awarded in line with the outcomes and priorities set out in the Police and Crime Plan.

Mark added: “It was a particular privilege to be able to provide the extra funding to groups through the pandemic last year, an immeasurably hard time for so, so many of us.

“I wanted to ensure all our communities were continuing to be supported throughout this time by projects that understood their needs in this ever changing environment. I wanted those feeling vulnerable and isolated to know we were there to help them, and this was another way for us to do that.

“The fund has always been about turning ill-gotten gains into something positive and tangible for the communities that benefits people in a really great way.

“Last night was also a way of saying thank you to everyone who has helped make the fund what is it, from those who applied and turned the money into a fantastic contribution for their own communities, to West Yorkshire Police and my own office for all their support in helping make the fund a success.

“I am overwhelmed at the positive impact it’s had in helping our communities feel safe and I want to say a huge thank you to everyone involved for the very real difference they all made and continue to make.”

The Safer Communities Fund is financed through money recovered by West Yorkshire Police and prosecutors from criminals under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

West Yorkshire Police Chief Constable, John Robins, said: “I would like to pass on my congratulations to all of the community and voluntary groups who have been successful in applying for this funding.

“Community groups and charities provide a lifeline to many people and despite the challenges of the last year, they have continued to provide vital services, helping people during these unprecedented times.”

The Safer Communities Fund is set to continue under the West Yorkshire Mayor and more details will be made available in due course.

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