Communications Update & Communications Plan
The SBC Communications Manager provided an update on the key
communications activities and messages since the last meeting of the Board and responded to questions as follows:
· Her team were concentrating on assisting health colleagues in continuing to encourage vaccine take up. A new multi-agency Communications vaccination group had been set up.
· Discussions were ongoing regarding vaccinations for 12-16 year olds and her team were assisting the school immunisation team with communications planning and with vaccine drop-in sessions.
· The weekly head teachers’ meetings continued to take place and schools were continuing to follow DfE (Department for Education) guidance. Schools were now being asked to report any outbreaks of more than two linked cases, though the DfE guidance was that any linked outbreaks of five cases or more should be reported. She confirmed that, to date, she had received notification of between four to five outbreaks at schools. The dedicated covid schools’ officer was working closely with schools and encouraging them to seek assistance from the Communications department to get the message out.
· Her team had developed locally-based stand-by plans for the autumn and winter. Covid data, local preparations, modelling, scenario planning and the team’s capacity to react at short notice to changing circumstances had improved since last year. All the usual mediums such as social media, media messaging continued to be used. The team had established excellent working relationships with partners, were closely monitoring the situation and sharing information with partners.
Following further discussion, the actions below were agreed:
Action 1: A paper or a flier setting out messaging that the Board could take forward to residents as part of the autumn/winter covid preparations to be submitted at the October meeting of the Board.
Action 2: A detailed Communication Plan for the autumn/winter, including messaging for pregnant women and those from BAME communities with low vaccine take up be submitted at the October meeting of the Board.
The SBC Communications Manager undertook to do this.
Resolved: That the Communications Update be noted.
The Slough Borough Council (SBC)Communications officer provided a brief update regarding key communications activities and messages since the last meeting of the Board. She advised that the Communications team were:
· Continuing to promote the drop-in vaccine sessions on social media three times a week. The vaccine bus had not been out since 20 July, however, vaccinations continued to be offered at Salt Hill and Langley health centres.
· Promoting ‘staying safe’ and had shared the video by Dr Khan from Public Health England about reducing the spread of covid following the lifting of restrictions. Advice included meeting outside, allowing fresh air indoors and the continued use of masks in crowded places.
· Messaging about the importance of twice weekly lateral flow test for senior students by targeting their parents.
· Sharing information about the latest changes in Covid regulations, the importance of self isolation and regular PCR testing.
Resolved - That the Communications Update be noted.
The Public Health Service Lead provided an update on the key
communications activities and messages since the last meeting of the Board.
The Communications team continued to encourage vaccine take up on various social media platforms, focussing particularly on those aimed at young people. The Council’s webpages and its Facebook page were being updated and other avenues being explored.
The Chair was pleased to note that latest issue of The Citizen magazine had focussed on the wider aspects of health and wellbeing, particularly mental health which had signposted services and support available to residents.
A Member stated that the Government website showed that only 206 vaccinations had been given in Slough on the previous day and asked whether low vaccine take-up was due to limited supplies of the vaccine or the reluctance of residents to be vaccinated.
The Public Health Service Lead advised that there were sufficient supplies of the vaccine in the Borough, and that they were trying to increase the number of vaccinators. Community engagement was an ongoing priority.
Following further questions and comments from Board Members, the following responses were given:
· Due to capacity issues within the volunteer team, currently only afternoon shifts were available at Salt Hill and consequently the numbers of vaccines being given had dropped. A number of strategies were in place and currently 300 volunteers were working on a regular basis, however, the process of administering the volunteer scheme was taking longer. The scheme was expected to continue until March 2022 and further discussions would be needed about how this and the rollout of the booster jabs from September onwards would be resourced and managed.
· With regard to the Police, the biggest operations demand related to travellers returning from overseas having to quarantine in hotels. The biggest concern was the large numbers of staff having to self-isolate due to positive test results. Messages reiterating social distancing guidelines seemed to be having a positive impact among the workforce.
· Work to engage with the homeless and encourage them to be vaccinated had already been undertaken.
The Chair requested that an update report regarding the Council’s preparations for the autumn be presented at the August meeting of the Board so that any potential issues could be flagged up and mitigating measures implemented. A draft letter to Central Government from the Board flagging up any concerns and resourcing needs should also be presented at the next meeting.
(Councillor Swindlehurst left the meeting.)
A Member expressed concern about relying too heavily on volunteers and the prospect of dealing with volunteer fatigue. She pointed out that those volunteers who had been on furlough would now be returning to work. This would put additional pressure on existing volunteers, which was not sustainable. The Board should reiterate the need for Central Government to adequately resource and remunerate the volunteer initiative in the future.
It was important to note that many volunteers enjoyed volunteering and gained personal benefit from the activity. However, the scheme needed to be better resourced and funded in order to make the overall experience better.
The Chair emphasized the importance of acknowledging the significant contribution to the community by volunteers and expressing the Borough’s gratitude to them.
Resolved - That the Communications Update be noted.