Brent Council will appoint paid ‘community health educators’ as part of its plan to reduce health inequalities in the borough.

Dr Melanie Smith, director of public health at Brent Council, explained how they will work alongside ‘community champions’ to improve outcomes for those disproportionately affected by poor health.

This, she said, will cover both the relatively short-term issue of the Covid-19 pandemic and its wider, medium- and long-term strategy.

Dr Smith said the programme would be targeted at Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities, who have been hit hardest by coronavirus and generally suffer greater health inequalities.

“The effect of Covid-19 isn’t equal – even after allowing for age and deprivation, those in BAME communities have worse outcomes,” she told a council health and wellbeing board earlier this month.

She said the move had been motivated, in part, by the “significant and distressing” number of deaths in Alperton and Church End – areas with a high percentage of BAME groups.

The council said it has been working to “reduce exposure to the virus, reduce susceptibility to the virus, and improve access to healthcare”.

This includes a “culturally competent” communications strategy, after the initial approach “failed to land” at the outbreak of the virus.

It has now called for more volunteers from the targeted communities to work with it, through community-led virtual meetings, for example, to help tackle health inequalities now and in the future.