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Article date - 07 October 2021
The Public Health Annual Report for 2020/21, which was presented to St Helens Borough Council’s Cabinet, features first-hand experiences of those who helped lead the response and councillors spoke with passion about how the stories recognise that working as one, St Helens Borough’s communities were there for each other in their time of need.
Through St Helens Together people were supported by bringing volunteers together with residents and staff collecting shopping, delivering food hampers, through to supporting the testing and vaccination roll out across the borough.
There were firsts for the borough with the creation of a volunteer portal launched just as lockdown hit, making volunteering easier than ever. Meanwhile St Helens Borough was among the first in the country to roll out symptom-free testing for everyone in the community.
The report shows how resources also drew on other areas of the council with support from staff across the organisation who switched from their usual day jobs to provide test and trace support, manned test sites and led at the food hub.
The scale of the work included supporting more than 100 rough sleepers into accommodation and providing wrap-around support which has led to some people finding long term accommodation.
It also details the demands such as at the height of the pandemic one week’s PPE requests included 13,950 gloves, 9,100 aprons, 5,880 type IIR masks, 2,424 visors and 4,190 hand gels. These were for various settings including nursing homes, supported living, children’s services, homeless team and domiciliary care.
It also recognises how public health services adapted to Covid-19 restrictions with everything from activity sessions in public courtyards for residents, online support and one to one sessions for alcohol and drug recovery support through to at home sexual health testing kits which meant people could still get checked in safety at home.
Councillor Anthony Burns, Cabinet Member for Wellbeing, Culture and Heritage, said: “This annual report is unlike any other we’ve produced before and will act as a historic document to tell the story of how St Helens Borough responded to the global pandemic. The overwhelming sense from the stories and examples of work carried out is the pride that everyone involved in the response feels for how St Helens Together was a catalyst to bring people together to do good for others.
“This partnership work that happened through the pandemic strengthened connections across organisations and communities they serve or work in. These connections are now being built on to help the borough in its gradual recovery from Covid-19 and that spirit has heavily influenced our St Helens Together Borough Strategy as we look to carry on that partnership approach.
“Now the focus is on tackling health inequalities, which have been in some cases widened due to the pandemic, along with the impact on people’s mental health, which we know has also been affected over the last 18 months. We will continue to address these, together, with our partners.”
To read the report click the link here.