City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council: Community centred approaches to COVID-19 

The aim of the community centred programme is to increase the take-up of COVID testing and vaccine offer across Bradford in areas with low acceptance rates.

This is intended to be achieved through a culturally reflective engagement and support model in partnership between the local Council, NHS, Primary Care Network (PCN), Council of Mosques, the Racial Equality Network (REN) and Community Action Bradford and District (CABAD).

This was to address lower acceptance of community testing and the take up of the vaccine. The reason behind this lower take up is based on a combination of strong anecdotal evidence, information from local insight gathered through doorstep work, focus groups and Primary Care Networks (PCNs).

Early data shows a lower take up of vaccine in certain cultural and vulnerable communities. As the role out is extended to wider age cohorts, we envisage the level of take up will decrease further. Much of this is associated with the inner-city wards of the Bradford district which rank as the most deprived wards and many feature in the top 10 per cent most deprived nationally.

Information also suggests that this due to a range of factors extending from language barriers, vaccine and testing hesitancy, misinformation, and mobility issues. Individuals with mobility issues who have accepted the vaccine offer have received home visits from trained PCN staff over 70+.

In March 2020, we set up a community hub to oversee the programme and ensure consistency. The issues above were mitigated by multi-lingual staff and volunteers supporting engagement and first point of contact, local partnership approach adopted including faith leaders, REN and community leaders working in partnership with the PCNs, local NHS and Bradford Council and a strong multi-faceted communications activity including sending messages through local WhatsApp groups, talks in mosques and text messaging.

We also formed information sharing agreements between partners – these are being formally established to allow information exchange to target specific individuals who have declined vaccination, are hesitant or not contactable by phone.

Patients will be asked to give consent to an independent third party to talk with them about the reasons for not accepting using a pool of over 300+ volunteers many with multi-lingual skills. Bradford Council staff will carry out focused doorstep work where local GPs have not been able to contact patients by phone to provide an outreach extended service focusing on those most vulnerable. We worked with behavioural science teams to ensure the community needs were being met.

The impact of this can be demonstrated by the following:

  • Testing: increased from 200 tests to almost 2,400 weekly, over 30,000 PCR tests since September 2020 carried out in many areas of high infection.
  • Increased in testing rates 28 per cent success rate increased to almost 65 per cent
  • 10 per cent positive tests asymptomatic.
  • Home visits: 83,226 visits made.
  • Contacts with public: 537,271 conversations.
  • Contacts with businesses: 14,873 conversations.
  • VCS and faith groups involved: 100+ and growing.
  • Vaccination: Around 100 priority members of public signed up daily (digital solution in development).

A one size fits all response does not work; it is important to ensure the approach is adaptable. This model is being sustained by asset-based community development. Everyone involved is from the local area and are often speaking the languages spoken by the community.

The hub model also allows for consistency, ensuring that everything is coordinated. The whole approach is intelligence led, making sure that every contact counts. We ensure that they are given information on local support services, where to reach out to for welfare advice, mental health services, emotional and other support. Every person we engage with is given a community support booklet.


Ishaq Shafiq – Hub Manager, Bradford COVID Response Hub
Twitter: @BfdCovidHub

Jo Beecroft – Hub Manager
Bradford Covid Response Hub
Twitter: @jo_beekers