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:

Behavioural Insights Team – crafting effective communications during a crisis

The Cabinet Office’s Behavioural Insights team has put together a helpful with their top five tips on creating effective communications for the Covid-19 response. Drawing on examples from Covid-19 Government communications, the team have outlined the process and rationale behind the end product.

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

City of Lincoln Council are mobilising their 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 are using their website to coordinate their 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 videos from their websites should you want to use them for your own communications. They 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 they are being proactive with their 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 their 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 helpful 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 have 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 have used their e-newsletters to mobilise residents to take direct action and help minimise the spread of COVID-19. The council have 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. Their messaging emphasises collective responsibility – whether it’s residents, businesses and the council pulling together, or working with central government, we can all make a difference.