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COVID-19 Champions - Marina's Story

Vera Group is a women empowerment group based in Walsall, with the aim to bring together women from different European countries, empowering them to live full and meaningful lives; promoting women's self-esteem, positivity and self-confidence and offering non-judgmental support, advocacy and empowerment.


Recently, they have been part of the COVID-19 Community Champions programme. Their project activities have included face-to-face and online support, communicated information about COVID-19 in different languages and helped community members with booking vaccinations and registering with a GP.


They have also recruited volunteers from across Walsall to get involved, develop their skills and most of all make a difference. One of the champions is Marina, who has kindly shared her story.

A woman and man with face masks talking to each other, while the woman is filling out a questionnaire on paper.
Marina speaking to a resident while volunteering as a COVID-19 champion.

My name is Marina Kotova, I am 35 years old, and from the Blakenall area.


I became a COVID-19 Champion because I heard about the project and was interested in getting involved, as it was relevant to the current pandemic situation. I thought it would be a great opportunity to learn more from people who had actual information and help make a positive change in the community.


Being a COVID-19 Champion, I had a variety of different roles. I conducted questionnaires, helped educate people with relevant information, and shared the latest government guidelines. Although a lot of my work included going out and speaking with members of the community, I also had roles that I could fulfil when I was at home. I prepared reports of the questionnaires that were completed and shared information on local social media groups about the latest government guidelines and where people can seek help to book a vaccination appointment. I believe the flexibility and the range of roles you can do, as a community champion, is one of the best things about being one.


During my volunteering experience I offered support to numerous community members. One of the stories is related to a Walsall resident who wanted to get the vaccine but wasn't sure about his health condition and the side effects that can occur. I had a discussion with this individual and encouraged him to book a consultation with a health professional that could give the relevant advice.


To be a COVID-19 Champion means being useful for the community, giving people the support they need and bringing a sense of connection in the current difficult and unpredictable situation. Every time you help a person, it motivates you to do more things to improve your community.


If you have a desire to help people, if you care about the wellbeing of the community you live in, take a chance to become a volunteer. I believe that even the smallest help matters. If you doubt your self-confidence, start by talking to and helping friends, family members, classmates, etc. By being a COVID-19 Champion, not only you help others, but you also benefit yourself by becoming more connected with your community.