Coronavirus (COVID-19) communications support and templates: Showing leadership

During uncertain times, residents look to community leaders for clarity, leadership and guidance.

Here are some of the ways local politicians have been showing leadership in the response to COVID-19.

Liverpool City Region Covid Response video

Liverpool City Region (LCR) has shared an ‘LCR Covid Response’ video, with leaders from local councils detailing the impact of COVID-19 on the region, with higher infection and mortality rates than most areas in the country. The video also outlines the community response to the pandemic, and optimism for recovery with fair funding from Government.

St Helens Metropolitan Borough Council elected members thank council staff

Elected members at St Helens Metropolitan Borough Council have put together a YouTube video thanking council staff for their hard work and dedication in the response to COVID-19. The video includes a message from council Leader Councillor David Baines and photos of councillors from across the borough holding messages of thanks.

Lewes District and Eastbourne Borough Councils’ politicians live Q&A’s

For the first four weeks of social distancing measures, the council’s leader and deputy leader held daily Facebook Live Q&A sessions. They proved very popular with residents and were used to share announcements, both those of the Government and the council and its partners. These Q&As are now held three times a week. The council is led by a cooperative alliance of councillors from across the political spectrum, including the Green Party, Liberal Democrats, Labour and Independents.

The council’s Green Party Leader, Zoe Nicholson and Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader, James MacCleary have been hosting on alternate days and their complimentary styles and particular areas of interest has meant that the council has been able to clearly display its leadership to the widest possible audience. On many broadcasts and on catch-up, these Q&As have reached around 10 per cent of the population of the district. The sessions have also worked well as a customer service channel, with officers supporting Zoe and James to respond to specific queries in real-time and for officers to continue these through the council’s digital channels once the broadcast has ended.

Richmond Council Leader and Police Commander Live Q&A

Richmond upon Thames London Borough Council held a live Q&A with Council Leader Cllr Gareth Roberts and Police Commander Sally Benatar. Residents were given the opportunity to submit questions in advance. Bringing together both authorities meant that the Q&A covered a wide variety of topics and addressed many resident concerns, from crime and policing approach during the lock down to social isolation.

Basildon Council’s Facebook Live events result in community action

Basildon Council Leader Gavin Callaghan has now done 14 Facebook Live events for residents, providing updates on the council’s response to COVID-19 and answering questions on a wide range of issues of concern to residents and local businesses. The events have had more than 103,000 views between them. The Q&As have directly led to practical community responses, for example, an appeal for help for a local hospice for help with PPE and bottles of water, which they had run out of, resulted in a delivery of PPE through the regional resilience forum and a donation of water bottles from the council’s Towngate Theatre.

It's not just political leaders engaging with residents. In April, senior managers from revenues and benefits and customers services hosted a live Q&A on Facebook answering questions about help with payments and support for people suffering financial hardship as a result of the pandemic.

Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council’s Facebook Live Leader’s Q&A

BCP Council recently held its first ever Facebook Live Leader’s Q&A, with Leader Cllr Vikki Slade. Not only was it the council’s first Leader’s Q&A, but the first conducted remotely, and the team’s efforts paid off with great results. The video had 14,300 unique views during the live broadcast, with 1,415 post engagement. These results were significant improvements on the council’s historical post averages, proving just how much content of this type is resonating with residents at this time.

Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees’, weekly Q&A

Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees is doing weekly live Q&A sessions on his Facebook page, answering questions about Bristol’s response to COVID-19. Residents can ask questions in advance by commenting on social media posts or tweeting #AskBristolMayor.

Bath & North East Somerset Councillors get hands on

Bath & North East Somerset Council has been documenting its efforts to support residents on its social media channels, sharing pictures of its councillors taking part in critical tasks such as delivering supplies as part of their Compassionate Communities Hub.

Devon County Council Leader praises council staff and ‘Team Devon’

Councillor John Hart, Leader of Devon County Council, has used local media to express his gratitude to council employees across the county for the work they have been doing to support residents. The message to residents effectively captures how county, district and parish councils are working together as ‘Team Devon’ and acting as another emergency service.