Communicating the 2019 local COVID-19 outbreak and control plan
Northumberland County Council (NCC) published a local COVID-19 Outbreak Prevention and Control Plan in June 2020. This Northumberland-wide plan was produced in response to and forms part of the government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy.
The plan outlines the approach NCC will take to work collaboratively with partners and stakeholders to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 and to act quickly to manage outbreaks and reduce the spread within the community.
NCC’s communications team commissioned Stand to provide expert communications and engagement support to assist their in-house teams to develop and deliver communications, engagement and marketing planning and capacity to support the successful delivery of the local COVID-19 Outbreak Prevention and Control Plan.
The plan identified the following five priority areas:
- Care homes and residential settings
- Educational settings – early years, schools and colleges
- High risk/consequence individuals and communities
- High risk/consequence settings
- Workplace and business.
Commissioned in July 2020, Stand recognised the need for rapid progress and we assembled a team who had the skills, experiences and expertise to deliver in such a short timeframe.
Stand carried out research, intelligence gathering and stakeholder mapping using our network of contacts and key partners to get a good understanding of the different priority areas. We undertook interviews with council officers, their partner public and voluntary sector organisations, senior education and clinical staff, and businesses and commercial networks to find out what was important to them and what was needed to consider when delivering consistent messages promptly if a potential local outbreak occurred.
Stand also did wide-ranging research into tools, resources and approaches relevant to each priority area from across the UK and beyond. Due to the many unknowns about the virus at the time, there was a noticeable lack of information available and we found ourselves at the forefront of developing these tools. We were able to identify what messages and support was already available and identify the gaps where further work and support was required.
From the research, engagement conversations and data we collected in such a short space of time, Stand produced an overarching communications strategy to help respond to a COVID outbreak and produced comprehensive tools kits for each priority area. The strategy and toolkits included key messages, assets and targeting of materials and messages that NCC and its partners can use to communicate and engage on COVID-19 internally within its departments and externally with communities and organisations.
The strategy and toolkits have been published on the council website www.northumberland.gov.uk/coronavirus/Local-COVID-19-Outbreak-Prevention-and-Control-Pla.aspx