COVID-19 Champions - Fahim's Story
The COVID-19 Community Champions programme supports residents from under-represented groups who may be most at risk of COVID-19.
Champions have been at the forefront of the programme, engaging with communities on the latest information about COVID-19, addressing concerns individuals may have and tacking misinformation and myths about the vaccination.
Fahim is a COVID-19 Community Champion from the Afghan Community and Welfare Association, who shares his experiences of being part of the programme.
My name is Mohammed Fahim Zazai and I live in south Walsall.
I chose to be a COVID-19 Community Champion because I wanted to be part of something positive, be part of the COVID-19 vaccination programme and spread the awareness in the community to defeat Coronavirus and save lives so we can all live a normal life.
My role as a COVID-19 Champion is to speak to people in the community and encourage them to have the COVID-19 vaccine. If there are people who are concerned I listen and then provide more details about the vaccine and if needed help them get more information from local health professionals to help them make an informed choice. I can also help them to book an appointment at a local site to get the vaccine.
I would like to share two examples of where I have offered support as a COVID-19 Champion:
I had been supporting a man since the lockdown began. He was classed as high risk (clinically vulnerable). When the vaccination programme started, he was offered the COVD-19 vaccine. However, he was hesitant and did not want to have it. He was contacted by his GP but he still was not convinced. I spoke to him and I arranged a talk in the community, with people who were in a similar situation. I invited him to participate. Everyone who came shared their experience of having the vaccine. Following this, the man agreed to have his first dose of the vaccine after hearing from other people.
Similarly, I met another lady who moved from another country. Due to her immigration status and lack of documents, she was not registered with a GP. Because of this, she thought she was not eligible and could not have the vaccine. I spoke to her and explained that she can have her vaccine. She has happy for me to help her with interpreting and filling in the forms. I was able to take her to one of the mobile vaccination buses, so she could receive her vaccine. I also managed to register her with a GP. She is now waiting for her second dose.
I have been working in the community for many years, supporting newly arrived families and migrants, so volunteering as a COVID-19 Champion is another opportunity for me to work with different people in the community to understand their situation. It means I am contributing to the fight against Coronavirus and helping save lives. Furthermore, addressing COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy means more people will have the vaccine to help reduce the spread of the virus.
Anyone can help in their own way to support people with COVID-19. During the previous lockdowns, I witnessed many ordinary people came out to volunteer, helping people according to their needs in the community, from delivering essential food items and medicines, to helping vulnerable people and the elderly. If we try to help spread the awareness and address vaccine hesitancy, I am sure we can make a huge difference and help go back to normality.
If you are aged 18+, living or working in Walsall and you would like to find out more or be part of the Community Champions programme, visit the Walsall for All website: https://www.walsallforall.co.uk/community-champions
For further details about the COVID-19 vaccination and where to get your first or second dose, visit the Walsall Council website: http://go.walsall.gov.uk/covid-19_information/covid-19_vaccination_information