What’s next? - Learning lessons, making recommendations for improvement and future practice

To minimise the harm brought by COVID-19 and to amplify the benefits gleaned from the city’s response, it is important for us to learn lessons and use best practice in future work. 

Key lessons learned in our engagement strategy are summarised below:

Key lessons learned from Business Engagement

  • A supportive approach encouraging businesses to make informed decisions and act carefully and proportionately, to manage the risks to themselves and others, was arguably more beneficial than punitive methods
  • Provide business with the opportunity to feedback and know that their efforts are valued and worthwhile
  • Tailor national resources to suit the demographics within Coventry and provide easy to follow advice that can be understood in a range of workplaces
  • We have learned a lot since the COVID-19 response began, and our approach to breaking chains of transmission and protecting the public’s health has evolved significantly.  Ensure this learning is passed on and guidance is kept up to date.
  • Use and build upon existing relationships and partnerships in order to effectively disseminate messages.

Key lessons learned from Community Engagement

  • Provide as much detailed information as you can, but let people choose the information they want to share in their own ways
  • Make senior leaders visible, so people know their work is valued – the fact that senior leaders find time to attend most webinars to talk to community messengers is greatly appreciated and respected by the network
  • With all engagement arrangements make sure to set a culture of openness and mutual respect - ‘we are all in this together’
  • Share information with established hubs in neighbourhoods like community and faith centres
  • Provide effective, clear communications collateral for communities to share via the social media channels they use
  • Listen and act on the valuable feedback you’re getting from communities
  • Support communities to tell their stories in their own words – like the videos produced by young people and the community messengers
  • Find ways of overcoming barriers to engagement, e.g. there was a tension between the peaks and troughs of NHS staff capacity to delivery outreach and having enough time to engage with local communities – advocated for longer lead-in times for outreach clinics.

Key lessons learned from Homelessness Engagement

  • Upskill agencies that already work with this cohort and are more likely to be trusted/listened to
  • Rigorous planning and provision of services in the most convenient locations – i.e. “going to” the individuals to provide testing and vaccinations
  • Partnership working crucial in this area
  • Be prepared for the worst-case scenario, ensuring outbreaks can be safely managed in hostel accommodations

Key lessons learned from Early Years and Education Engagement

  • True partnership working is essential – two-way communication and co-development of local policy
  • Consistency of approach is important, particularly for local parents and communities, but with an understanding that guidance will be interpreted in different ways
  • Allow schools/settings to take ownership as they know their community the best but offer support where needed

From these lessons and findings, a number of key recommendations have been identified that augment and look to consolidate much of the good practice that has taken place over the last 12 months.

The recommendations for 2021/2022 are:

  • Recommendation 1 - Harness the work of the Community Messengers approach established during our COVID-19 response, as an ongoing method of working with communities and a central component of engagement for public health and wider programmes
  • Recommendation 2 - Build on the engagement structures created and strengthened during the pandemic such as the Places of Worship and Community Centre Network, and grass-roots community organisations that were funded to support COVID-19 response efforts. Further understand the reach of these community organisations and networks to enable the targeting of work in areas with limited availability of community resource.
  • Recommendation 3 - Strengthen the existing relationships with GPs, other health professionals, and those working with populations at higher risk of a range of poorer health outcomes due to inequality, deprivation, ethnicity, and underlying health conditions – building upon the work started through the Vaccinating Coventry Programme.
  • Recommendation 4 - Embed our partnership approach to maintaining local COVID-19 defence, led by Coventry City Council’s Public Health working collaboratively with UK Health Security Agency and in partnership with the wider Council and ‘One Coventry’ partners.
  • Recommendation 5 - Establish strong COVID-19 recovery workstreams with ‘One Coventry’ partners and communities to embed a robust and coherent recovery for the City, with the aim of building a better future for all.