A partnership of organisations, volunteers and community leaders across the Borough of Boston have been working hard to support residents to benefit from a major health and wellbeing programme, following a grant of almost half a million pounds from the Government’s Community Champions Fund.

The funding was secured by Boston Borough Council and is being used to deliver a focussed and collaborative programme of work through the Council-led scheme, ‘Empowering Healthy Communities’.

Aiming to support residents through and beyond the current COVID-19 pandemic, with the help of Boston Borough Council’s trusted community leaders, the scheme will be helping to diversify, enhance and accelerate community engagement, with targeted communications focussing on building trust and confidence in public health information. It has been tailored to address barriers to behaviour change by building strong relationships within local Boston communities, with community leaders playing an important role in making sure the key messages are spread far and wide.

Covering a wide range of activities, the scheme aims to help build a better understanding of Boston’s diverse communities by increasing awareness of cultural differences and opportunities. To help do this, the project has provided a number of cultural awareness sessions to community leaders, volunteers and statutory staff across a number of organisations.

Further announcements as each strand of the programme is launched, will be revealed over the coming months.

Michelle Howard, Boston Borough Council Assistant Director for Housing and Wellbeing who has led on the development of this programme, said: “It’s fantastic to have been awarded this grant which will allow us to do so much within the Boston community. We have lots of great plans for the project over the coming months, but I am so proud of what we have achieved already so far. That being said, none of this would be possible were it not for our partners and community leaders who have shown so much commitment and enthusiasm. They have proven to be such a key link to our communities and we can’t thank them enough for their input and continued support. Working together, we hope to be able to keep rates of COVID-19 in Boston Borough as low as possible, whilst also supporting our NHS colleagues to achieve high levels of vaccination across the Borough.”

She added: “Through this programme, our hope is to engage and support people who need us, including people who are more isolated and less willing to engage. Guiding us at every stage is a commitment to understand ‘why’ people may not feel able to engage and to ensure we understand what our communities need.”

Commenting on how the Community Champions Fund has helped him and his team, community leader from Centenary Church, Rev. Dr Val Ogden, said: “Centenary Church has been helped by the Community Champions Fund recently when we needed translation services for a community audit questionnaire. We’re also excited to be participating with others across Boston in establishing a Good Neighbours’ Scheme and glad to be part of regular Community Leaders’ briefings which keep us well informed and up to date about COVID response and other community matters.”