Oxford Community Champions

Parts of Oxford are amongst the most deprived in the country. In these areas people die up to a decade earlier than those living in the wealthiest parts of Oxford. We want to end this inequality – and we need your help to do so.

We know that part of the reason why life expectancy is lower in some areas of Oxford is because people do not want to engage with health services. We want to learn more about these reasons, so that we can do something to tackle the issue.

It is hoped that the Community Champions will bring together people from diverse communities and backgrounds as a collective that may not have otherwise been able to work together to build strong local services and community cohesion.

The combination of community-led insight and a varied programme of creative sessions with our health colleagues will offer our communities the support they need to live safe and healthy lives and build trust among local people and the council.

During phase 1 of the Programme we recruited 83 Community Champions most of which are from our 7 Anchor Organisations (Asylum Welcome, Turning Point, LEAF, Refugee Resource, Transition Lighthouse, AfiUK and OCA (Oxford Community Action)).  

The Community Champions have the flexibility and autonomy to design their approach to best suit their community – whether that’s through running a workshop with health colleagues, picnics at nearby park, or having conversations on social media. These Champions will be a long-term voice for their communities who will be fully involved not just in collecting insights to the barriers, but also being part of creating practical solutions to address these challenges, which will increase confidence and self-esteem.

From April 2023 we have moved onto phase 2 which will be working with a smaller steering group of around 15 Champions to look at co-producing solutions to barriers gathered during insight collection in phase 1. They will help us build a better health system in Oxford, one that meets the needs of everyone in our city. Champions will work closely with health colleagues to provide communities with factual information to minimise the vacuum for misinformation and remove the barrier to engaging with health services.

Pleace see Impact Report March 2023 from end of Phase 1. 

How the project is funded

Phase 1

The first phase of the Community Champions programme was funded by the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (formerly MHCLG).

The Government hoped to better understand the barriers communities have in accessing the COVID-19 vaccine. Our local programme has also look at reasons for wider health inequality and work with communities to co-produce practical solutions to best meet their needs.

Oxford City Council are working in partnership with Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and West Berkshire Intergrated Care Board (BOB ICB) , Oxfordshire County Council’s Public Health team and other organisations to deliver high quality, cost effective public services.

Phase 2

The second phase is jointly funded by Public Health and Oxford City Council. A COVID 19 Engagement Project is funded by NHS England up until March 2024.

Community Champion's Priorities 2023 to 2025

As we reflect on the journey of the Community Champions Programme, it's evident that significant strides have been made in addressing key priorities, with some initiatives already implemented and showing positive outcomes while others are currently in their emerging stages.

These priority areas are derived from the insights gathered during the initial phase funded by DLUHC. This phase, dedicated to finding out barriers to accessing healthcare in the city, laid the foundation for the subsequent actions of the Community Champions steering group and identification of eight priority areas as practical solutions. They also serve as the guiding pillars for our ongoing and forthcoming initiatives.

There are 8 priority areas to address health inequalities in the city.

1. Strengthen relationship with BAME community

Engage with the BAME community to build trust and relationship, fostering an inclusive environment where the unique perspectives and needs of the BAME communities are recognised and addressed.

2. Continue COVID vaccine engagement in the city and beyond

Continue supporting COVID Vaccination programme and vaccine pop-ups in areas of higher health inequalities and with priority communities across the city and beyond.

3. Partnership working with BOB ICB (Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and West Berkshire Intergrated Care Board) to co-produce a GP receptionist awareness video

Develop a two-way collaborative video between Champions and Primary Care Receptionists to raise awareness of the role of the receptionist and share lived experiences to improve access, experience and outcomes of primary care with in priority communities.

4. Grant fund anchor organisations for practical solutions

Support anchor organisations with small grants towards implementing practical solutions. E.g. Asylum Welcome funded to develop a translated health information website; AFiUK to expand reach of ladies only swimming and Transition Lighthouse to further develop its walking group in Barton.

5. Increase access to healthcare among homeless population

Facilitate increased healthcare access for the homeless population by supporting Luther Street Medical Centre in setting up a Patient Participation Group (PPG), promote their services and improve health information including healthcare rights among the homeless population.

6. Increase inclusion and diversity in community assets

Allocate practical solution funding to support the expansion of AFiUK’s women only swimming provision and work alongside Blackbird Leys CHDO to make the pool area private.

7. Work alongside CHDOs (Community Health Development Officers - Oxford City Council) to increase healthcare access for men

Organise specialised men's health workshops led by Champions and supported by Community Health Development Officers, in collaboration with Primary Care Networks, Social Prescribers, and health check Commissioners to understand men’s health needs, access issues and raise awareness about common illnesses affecting men.

8. Increase education around food initiative

Collaborate with Community Health Development Officers and Champions to create informative videos showcasing food initiatives and reducing stigma of accessing these, with support from the City Council's Communication team for production.

Full Community Champions Progress Update December 2023.

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