Bradford Covid Scientific Advisory Group wins national award for efforts to support local communities during the pandemic

The Bradford Covid Scientific Advisory Group (C-SAG), which brought together research and families across social and healthcare organisations in the city, has been awarded a national Local Government award from the Municipal Journal for Innovation in Building Diversity, for its partnership work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In March 2020, when the pandemic charged the world into a new era, a partnership, led by Yorkshire and Humber ARC’s Early Life and Prevention theme, brought together data, scientists and families from Bradford Council, the Centre for Applied Education Research, Bradford Teaching Hospitals and the Bradford Institute for Health Research. This partnership helped support an evidence-based response to the pandemic that helped to address the challenges faced by vulnerable people and families across the district.

Bradford’s C-SAG brought together data to boost understanding of the local trends, issues and concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic. The team worked across a range of partners, including: community champions, health care practitioners, faith leaders, academics, youth workers and council ward officers. Bradford is a vibrant and diverse district made up of many communities. Some highlights of the C-SAG work that addressed the needs of the community across the district include:

  • Working together the partnership was able to gather evidence ahead of the national debate to help support people in the district including enabling socially distanced worship and burials, providing support for Roma communities with appropriate language and messaging, helping people with mental health support through the crisis and ensuring resilience in recovery.

  • The partnership used evidence and the voice of the community to recruit from the district’s diverse communities for vaccine trials (including halal and vegan vaccines) ensuring that the district was in the lead for engagement rates in the trials.

  • The partnership led a campaign to redress ‘Fake News’ and established hubs to boost vaccine take-up in all of the district’s diverse communities.

Professor Dinesh Saralaya, Noreen Akhtar, and Professor John Wright

Pictured with the award (L to R) are: Professor Dinesh Saralaya, MD, FRCP, Consultant Respiratory Physician & Director of the Bradford NIHR PRC, Bradford, Noreen Akhtar, Bradford West Area Coordinator (Bradford Council) and Professor John Wright, YH ARC Director, Bradford Institute for Health Research.

Awarding the partnership the judges, said: “The Council demonstrated a systematic and integrated data driven approach to understanding the needs of diverse communities in Bradford (both established and new migrant communities), using local knowledge, partners and ambassadors to engage local people.” The judges took particular note of the success at recruiting ethnically diverse participants to COVID-19 trials, which is of critical importance and sadly not replicated in many other research trials.

“This entry highlighted the strength of local partnerships and leveraging research and intelligence infrastructure during the early stages of the pandemic to deliver effective data-led public health interventions that saved many lives. Judges saw this approach as having a much broader application beyond the pandemic. It is commendable how it is now being used to tackle other long-standing health inequalities in Bradford.”

Professor John Wright, Director of the Yorkshire and Humber ARC, said: “Yorkshire has some of the leading expertise in epidemiology and community engagement that has grown around its Born in Bradford programme. The Covid Scientific Advisory Group bought together scientists, clinicians and communities to apply this expertise to protect the people of Bradford. It is a great example of partnership across local government and the NHS and how research can really make a difference.”

Councillor Sarah Ferriby, Bradford Council’s Executive Member for Healthy People and Places, said: “I’m delighted that the work of this partnership in our district has been recognised in this way. Especially the recognition that this largely unseen work during the pandemic, helped to save many lives. All those who contributed to the partnership should be rightly proud of their achievements.”

Learn more about our COVID-19 response here: