AN ANALYSIS of the handling of the pandemic was presented to the Council's cabinet last week, detailing the first-hand experiences of those who helped lead the response and highlighting how the community came together to volunteer and provide wrap-around support to those in need.

The Public Health Annual Report for 2020/21 highlights how, through the St Helens Together programme, residents were supported by council members and volunteers through collecting shopping and delivering food hampers to rolling out COVID-19 tests and vaccinations across the borough.

It was noted how St Helens Borough was among the first in the country to roll out symptom-free testing for everyone in the community, which worked to decrease high infection levels and controlled via the test and trace system.

Another avenue of the council's work during the pandemic included supporting more than 100 rough sleepers into accommodation and providing wrap-around support which has led to some people finding long term accommodation.

Local public health services adapted to COVID-19 restrictions in a number of ways: from requesting multitudes of PPE for health care settings, facilitating outdoor activity sessions to keep residents active, providing online support for those struggling with lockdown as well as alcohol and drug recovery, and getting sexual health testing kits into the community so people could still get checked safely at home.

Councillor Anthony Burns, Cabinet Member for Wellbeing, Culture and Heritage, said: “This annual report is unlike any other we’ve produced before and will act as a historic document to tell the story of how St Helens Borough responded to the global pandemic. The overwhelming sense from the stories and examples of work carried out is the pride that everyone involved in the response feels for how St Helens Together was a catalyst to bring people together to do good for others.

“This partnership work that happened through the pandemic strengthened connections across organisations and communities they serve or work in. These connections are now being built on to help the borough in its gradual recovery from Covid-19 and that spirit has heavily influenced our St Helens Together Borough Strategy as we look to carry on that partnership approach.

“Now the focus is on tackling health inequalities, which have been in some cases widened due to the pandemic, along with the impact on people’s mental health, which we know has also been affected over the last 18 months. We will continue to address these, together, with our partners.”

To read the report click the link here