Coronavirus (COVID-19) communications support and templates: Resident communications

Communicating with residents and ensuring they receive up to date, accurate and accessible information has never been more important as we work to tackle the spread of COVID-19 in our communities.


Councils communications teams are working round the clock with Leaders, chief executives, partners and public health teams to ensure that as many residents as possible are receiving this information.

In addition to social media, websites and community support hubs, comms teams are utilising their e-newsletters to send daily updates directly to residents.


Here’s how some councils have been keeping their residents up to date:

Woking Borough Council partners with local newspaper during crisis

Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, a comprehensive programme of engagement with residents, businesses and key stakeholders has ensured that clear and concise messages have been delivered in a swift and timely manner.

To ensure all within the borough’s community, especially hard to reach groups such as the elderly, vulnerable and disadvantaged, had access to important key messages from a range of public bodies, as well as positive community-led news, Woking Borough Council took the bold decision to partner with its local paid-for newspaper, the Woking News and Mail. Since 13 April 2020, the partnership has delivered a weekly 16-page newspaper to all households in the borough and parts of the neighbouring borough that mirrors the newspaper’s circulation area by Royal Mail’s door-to-door delivery service. That’s around 48,500 properties.

Whilst maintaining their independence, officers have worked closely with the newspaper’s editorial team to ensure a balance of council and partner news and positive community-led features. Feedback from the community has been positive, with many appreciating the delivery of weekly news and information. To support the borough’s recovery, the partnership has been extended to deliver a weekly 24-page newspaper to all households until the end of June 2020.

Westminster City Council City Lions Live

Westminster City Council has taken its City Lions programme live as a web event for the first time via Zoom. The sessions will take place every Thursday evening and aims to create a social space for young adults to meet new and old friends, attend workshops with professional creatives and build new skills. The sessions are open to children and young people between the ages of 13 - 16 years old who live or go to school in the City of Westminster.

Birmingham City Council podcast

Birmingham City Council has launched a new podcast, Let’s Be Together. The first episode was released on Apple and Spotify last week, in which Leader Councillor Ian Ward and the council’s Director of Public Health discussed the COVID-19 response across Birmingham.

BCP Council joins forces with local radio station

As part of its community response to COVID-19, Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP) Council has teamed up with local radio station Hope FM to provide a regular audio update of the latest BCP Council news. The council’s Community News Updates will be broadcast throughout the week on the radio station and will also be available online.

Rochdale Council invites residents to Get Creative Inside

Rochdale Council is working with Rochdale Boroughwide Housing, Darnhill Festival Association and charities Cartwheel Arts and Link4Life on ‘Get Creative Inside!’, an activity pack for families in Rochdale with local arts organisations contributing to the contents of the pack. Rochdale Council Public Health department also produced guidelines so that the packs could be produced and distributed safely in line with current public health guidance.

Luton Council face coverings advice video

Luton Council has put together a two-minute video starring members of their public health team demonstrating the current COVID-19 advice. The video contains easy to follow guidance on washing your hands, wearing gloves and how to wear and look after a face covering should you choose to wear one.

Warwickshire Council #HelpUsHelpOurCrews

Warwickshire Council has been sharing advice with residents, using the hashtag #HelpUsHelpOurCrews, on how they can play their part in keeping council workers and themselves safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Guidance on the council’s social media channels tells residents to wash their hands before and after bringing rubbish out and sorting recycling.

Thurrock Council video guidance for waste and recycling

Thurrock Council has put together a video for their social media channels which outlines how the newly re-opened tip will operate with special measures to allow for social distancing. The video is a helpful guide for residents, who are being encouraged only to use the tip if absolutely necessary.

Merseytravel’s Rethink Travel campaign

Merseytravel, part of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, has launched its Rethink Travel campaign. The campaign explains to residents what they need to think about when making essential journeys in the Liverpool City Region. Guidance and tips for residents are being shared across authorities’ social media channels using the hashtag #Rethink Travel.

Buckinghamshire Council’s COVID-19 communications response

The newly established Buckinghamshire Council has produced an overview of its response to COVID-19, which includes details on the proactive approach the council has taken to communications in recent weeks. This includes their #ProudofBucks campaign which highlighted the numerous local initiatives and activities being established to support the residents of the county and the work of council staff to galvanise the community spirit across Buckinghamshire. It also outlines the council’s approach to internal communications.

Cheshire East Council’s Foster Care Fortnight

With Foster Care Fortnight starting this week, like many local authorities, Cheshire East Council is still in need of finding new foster carers.

Knowing that during the current crisis, people are clearly staying at home, meaning there is a larger than usual audience, the council felt that this year was an important time to step up its potential reach by increasing the awareness of the need to find new foster carers.

As part of its social media campaign, each day for a fortnight the council will be sharing a quote from one of its existing foster carers with a clear call to action. As part of a wider campaign it is running a two-week radio and online campaign with Signal FM - a local commercial radio station - and has commissioned a film giving thanks to all its current foster carers.

The council recognises that sadly, when the current crisis is over, there is likely to be an additional requirement for foster carers - so it is focusing on a big campaign now to ensure that it is well prepared for that eventuality, should it arise.

Medway Council thanks residents, partners and staff

Medway Council, working across a variety of teams, has produced a video with messages to thank residents for staying home, protecting the NHS and saving lives. The council produced similar messages for their partners and council staff, thanking them for playing their part in the response to COVID-19.

Leeds City Council supports vulnerable residents and local newspaper

Leeds City Council is funding two months’ worth of deliveries of the Yorkshire Evening Post to their “red list” of the 150 most vulnerable people with their daily food parcels. It’s a win/win situation that allows the council to support two parties – helping the local newspaper when they have furloughed staff or reduced wages for those still working and keeping information flowing to the people least likely to be able to access it another way.  Not only can they not get out because they’re shielded, but many are part of the most disadvantaged groups who may not have broadband or devices giving them access to the internet.

Leicestershire County Council 'can your waste wait?' campaign

As Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs) remain closed or begin to think about reopening, Leicestershire County Council has launched a new campaign urging residents to think differently about household waste by asking residents 'can your waste wait?'. The campaign uses the hashtag #CanYourWasteWait and encourages residents to consider activities such as home composting or freezing leftovers as alternatives to using the bin for food waste.

Braintree District Council heroes campaign

Braintree District Council has launched a heroes campaign, using the hashtag #BraintreeDistrictTogether, to shine a light, celebrate and say thank you to those in the community, whether that’s an individual, community group or local business, doing fantastic acts of kindness for others during this time.

Derbyshire Spirit campaign

Derbyshire County Council launched the Derbyshire Spirit campaign with a cross-platform, multi-partner engagement approach, supporting local communities in coming together in these challenging times, ensuring crucial public health advice continues to get through to residents, whilst also celebrating the good news and positive activity happening at the council, in partner organisations and communities.

In the first 36 hours 15,000 people viewed the campaign video and 2,500 engaged with it, along with 2,000 people visiting the website. 13 partners from the LRF either created their own content using the campaign toolkit or shared the council’s content in the first 24 hours.

Behavioural Insights Team webinar – effective communications during COVID-19

The Behavioural Insights Team has facilitated a webinar about effective communications during COVID-19. The webinar takes you through their research and close working with the Government on the behavioural science response to the pandemic. It also gives some helpful hints and tips when creating communications

South Kesteven District Council summarise their response so far

South Kesteven District Council has created an infographic to share on social media, that summarises the council’s response to COVID-19 over the last five weeks and highlights some of their successes.

Charnwood Borough Council celebrate VE day at home

Charnwood Borough Council is encouraging residents to celebrate VE day at home on Friday 8 May. The council has released a special bulletin signposting residents to resources that will help them to celebrate at home including a party pack and bunting. The Government has also produced a number of useful resources to allow people to take part in the celebrations on social media.

Tandridge District Council supporting vulnerable residents

Tandridge District Council has created specific website pages to publicise the support available for the most vulnerable with pages for community initiatives and support, grocery and hot meal deliveries and a page for those who may be lonely and need someone to talk to. A bespoke hospital discharge form has been created so people can put everything in place for someone being discharged from the local hospital, which is now being used by a number of local councils.

The summer issue of the council magazine will focus on the work and support available, as well as celebrate the contribution key workers have played in helping the district cope during the crisis. It will be delivered to all households and businesses which means it will also be seen by all those not using online networks.

Surrey County Council support for bereaved residents

Working with the Local Resilience Forum, Surrey County Council has set up a support service for bereaved residents and families through their Community Helpline and Cruse, the bereavement support charity. The council has been working closely with Faith and Community Leaders in the county, who along with Council Leader Tim Oliver, have helped with statements of support for residents dealing with bereavement at this difficult time.

Southampton City Council – considerate community living

We all know the importance of social distancing, but what does this mean for tenants living in close proximity in blocks of flats? This was the challenge facing Southampton City Council’s Housing Service when communicating with tenants in its high-rise residential blocks. The team designed a suite of posters, each carrying a simple (but tailored) message, to be displayed in communal areas, plus a rolling animated graphic on social media and for the digital screens in lift lobbies. Messages include general hygiene advice, disposing of waste responsibly and a reminder to respect a “one out, one in” rule when using the lifts.

#KentTogether – frontline workers urge residents to follow Government guidance

As part of its communications work to remind residents to follow the Government’s advice by staying at home and only going out for essential trips, Kent and Medway Council has produced this great video as part of the #KentTogether campaign.

Working with partners, it includes council workers, a police officer, a nurse, a doctor and a community warden, as well as many others who are keeping vital services running. It also reminds residents that a 24-hour helpline has been set up to support vulnerable people who need urgent help, supplies or medication.

Welwyn Hatfield staff signpost residents to support

Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council has produced a 90 second video, as part of a wider campaign, directing residents to where to go if they need help. The video also serves as an opportunity to thank the community and let them know what the council is doing locally in response to COVID-19. The video has reached 30,000 views and has gone down well with staff, giving a timely morale boost to all those involved and their colleagues.

Richmond Council supporting children in isolation

Richmond Council has been working on a project to support children during isolation. The communications team worked with local astronaut, Helen Sharman, who was Britain’s first astronaut in space. Young people submitted their video questions and she answered them. Schools are now doing a space workshop with children and using the council’s video as part of that. The council is also holding a craft competition for children to build a rocket.

Milton Keynes Council expands reach of official advice

Milton Keynes Council has reached more than 700,000 people with COVID-19 advice and information through its social channels and email alerts. The communications team created a distinct yellow-alert brand for its COVID-19 updates to cut through local noise.

Thirteen local supermarkets are now displaying ‘stay up to date’ banners promoting the council’s channels. As a result, the council has seen a sharp rise new followers and subscribers, and around double the usual levels of engagement in posts.

East Lindsay District Council support leaflet and dedicated website

East Lindsay District Council has partnered with Magna Vitae, a local leisure and culture trust, to produce a support leaflet and dedicated website for residents as part of its response to COVID-19. The website contains information about looking after yourself and others during this time. It hosts a wide range of information and support on issues that may be affecting residents including financial advice and support on council tax, information on supply access and help for clinically vulnerable people.

In order to help pass the time during lockdown the platform also provides a number of exciting, innovative, interactive links to entertainment and exercise, incorporating quizzes, word searches, crosswords, national curriculum learning, live streaming from around the world and how to keep active at home with a wide range of exercise videos. A leaflet has been produced alongside the website to ensure that residents who don’t use or have access to the internet can still get this key information.

Surrey County Council School Superheroes pack

Surrey County Council has produced a ‘School Superheroes’ pack to encourage students to keep up with their school works, and, as a resource that parents can use at home with their children. The pack is a PDF colouring book and sticker collection that can be printed out and used at home. Children are encouraged to share their creations on social media using the hashtag #surreyschoolssuperheroes.

Devon and Cornwall launch domestic abuse awareness campaign

Staying at home isn’t as easy for everyone, in particular victims and potential victims of domestic abuse. That’s why partner agencies across Devon and Cornwall are launching a campaign to raise awareness around domestic abuse, warning that it may increase in the coming weeks due to the impact of Covid-19. The campaign will work to reassure victims that support is still available to them.

City of Lincoln Council’s befriending scheme – a new service for those at risk

City of Lincoln Council is mobilising its staff who now find themselves working at home to support elderly residents who are at risk of becoming isolated, through their new telephone befriending scheme. The council identified early on the need for a service to help protect the well-being of the elderly and residents who live alone. In just a short space of time more than 1,100 residents were matched with 22 council staff who began to contact them to explain the scheme and register interest. So far, around one third of these residents have used the service.

Manchester City Council’s social distancing banners

Manchester City Council’s communications team has created innovative social distancing banners for GP surgeries to support social distancing and help residents understand what two metres apart looks like in reality.

#StokeonTrentTogether COVID-19 Support Network

Stoke on Trent City Council has launched a new Covid-19 support network, alongside local voluntary sector organisations to keep residents protected and informed. The council is using its website to coordinate its volunteer recruitment programme and to encourage vulnerable people to sign up for support. In the week since its launch, 129 organisations have signed up alongside over 500 volunteers.

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough’s guidance in community languages

We’ve heard from many of you that not having Government guidance available in some languages has made your job of ensuring that residents follow it, more difficult. To counter this, Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council have worked with local community leaders (and staff) who are native speakers in all their community languages to film themselves giving the stay at home, wash your hands and stay two metres apart messages.

They have kindly shared their script, which has been approved by their Public Health team. You can download the guidance videos from their websites should you want to use them for your own communications. The video isn’t branded and includes only the name of the speaker and a flag to denote their nationality. Keep an eye out for the videos on the councils’ social media pages.

Watford Council ‘Tackling it together’ door drop campaign

Watford Borough Council has made sure it is being proactive with its resident communications and engagement around COVID-19. As we entered the second week of the Government’s social distancing measures, and guidance had become clearer, the council launched its Tackling it together in Watford leaflet. The leaflet outlines details of the local response to the Coronavirus pandemic; how to get help; and changes to the services the council provides. Leaflets will be delivered to every household in the district, as well as available online and promoted on social media, ensuring that every resident will have access to this vital information.

Watford Council is also hosting a live Facebook Q&A with Mayor Peter Taylor.

LOTI – guidance on holding publicly accessible online committee meetings

The London Office of Technology & Innovation (LOTI) has published some guidance on how to hold online committee meetings that are accessible to the public. This useful guide gives you step by step instructions, as well as a variety of options to consider depending on what technology is available to you. It breaks down some of the software that councils should consider using including Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Hangout.

Waltham Forest Council

Waltham Forest Council has been delivering regular COVID-19 updates to residents, from Council Leader Claire Coghill, outlining the latest national policy developments and the local response to them. The e-newsletters always contain hyperlinks to important website pages and Government advice as well as signposting for both vulnerable residents and potential community volunteers. They’ve utilised popular social media graphics as an effective way to explain often complicated concepts such as social distancing.

Westminster City Council

Westminster City Council has used its e-newsletters to mobilise residents to take direct action and help minimise the spread of COVID-19. The council has been consistently sharing Public Health England’s advice on the steps residents should take to look after themselves and others, whilst also inviting residents who want to help out locally to sign up to volunteer. Messaging emphasises collective responsibility – whether it’s residents, businesses and the council pulling together, or working with central government - so that we can all make a difference.