Cheshire and Merseyside’s ‘Getting under the skin’ research scoops two national awards

A collaborative research and communications project that explored the impact of COVID-19 on the subregion’s ethnic minority groups has been awarded ‘Communications Initiative of the Year’ at this year’s HSJ Awards and ‘Best Health Campaign’ at the Prolific North Marketing Awards.

The intensive research, ‘Getting under the skin’, and subsequent targeted campaign, ‘#LetsGetVaccinated’ was delivered by the Cheshire and Merseyside Health and Care Partnership and was commissioned in partnership with the Collaborative, UK Health Security Agency and NHS England North West.

Insight from the programme proved instrumental in successfully improving service interventions, communications and engagement between the NHS and local authorities and different ethnic groups across Cheshire and Merseyside.

The work was led by Edna Boampong while she was Interim Director of Communications and Engagement at the Partnership and was supported by Ryan McKernan, Communications and Engagement Manager, who is now in the Champs Support Team.

Edna said: “I’m incredibly proud this work has received such valuable and high-profile recognition – particularly given it is a true example of partners coming together to make a positive difference and tackle inequalities within our communities.

“Speaking on a very personal level, my motivation to write the proposal for this work was triggered when it became apparent the pandemic was having a disproportionate impact on black and minority ethnic groups. While we’ve always acknowledged there were long-standing inequalities within these communities, we felt we hadn’t done enough to bridge the gaps and this was an opportunity to get a better understanding of the impact so we could support and help these communities to protect themselves and recover.

“I have no doubt the research and targeted campaign saved lives and I want to thank everyone who played a part in making it happen. I hope this is just the start of how we continue to provide long-term support to local ethnic communities.”

Matthew Ashton, Director of Public Health for Liverpool and Lead Director for Communications and Social Marketing for the Champs Public Health Collaborative, said:

“The Getting under the skin research is a fantastic example of how we can take a population health approach to increasing vaccination uptake right in the heart of our most vulnerable communities.

“In addition to collecting valuable data and insight, we spoke to those communities about cultural and behaviour factors and how they like to receive messages. We also tested the messages out. Together, this information enabled us to develop the ‘Let’s get vaccinated’ campaign, which has been brilliant for Cheshire and Merseyside.”