Harnessing the power of communities during COVID-19

Harnessing the power of communities during COVID-19

UK wide there has been a rapid and growing public response to COVID-19. Over 300 local COVID-19 mutual aid groups were launched on Facebook in just 72 hours, with well over one million members. It is critical in this time of acute risk and pressure that public authorities and public health teams work with public mobilisations in order to:

  • Increase the social impact of public COVID-19 efforts, channelling them to where they will make the biggest difference
  • Strengthen and increase the sustainability of public mobilisation, so it can be maintained into the likely long tail of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Manage and mitigate the risks likely to be present in any public response to COVID-19

Essex County Council (EEC) has spent the last two years trialling and scaling a digital-first approach to the most critical public health and wellness issues with significant success. With a highly dispersed population, Essex County Council has struggled to reach all its citizens through traditional channels.

Across the county, there has been a rapid growth in localised Facebook groups and the ECC public health team built relationships with the admins of these local groups by inviting over 600 of them to be part of a programme of support, training, and funding.

The COVID-19 outbreak has seen a multitude of local aid efforts spring up around the county and ECC has sought to centralise the good will so it can be effectively managed and formulated into a long-term asset for the county. After witnessing several fake news and misinformation incidents, this need has grown in urgency.

Working in partnership with Facebook and local communities, the Essex Coronavirus Action group has been set up and is administered by the Council’s Public Health team, supported by Public Health England to provide Essex with a trustworthy source of information and advice.

To read the case study and to find out how ECC have taken a different approach, visit our LinkedIn page.

Last updated 25 March 2020