In this case study, we highlight a community-led response to COVID-19, to demonstrate how different delivery models can best meet the needs of local communities, with a view of central Government and other local initiatives learning from examples of community-led best practice.
Background: The Pacific community was disproportionately impacted in the COVID-19 Delta outbreak in 2021. South Seas and their Pacific partners recognised that mainstream approaches would not work to engage Pacific families. They needed to target where Pacific people congregate and provide additional support and assurance for them to engage with COVID-19 testing and vaccination services and support.
Bubblegum Youth surveyed young people about the kind of support they needed around COVID-19. Feedback highlighted common themes around education and mental health.
During lockdown the group planned a 12 week programme of ‘waves’, each dedicated to a different theme such as sense of identity, connectedness, mental health and wellbeing.
Bubblegum Youth set up the Barber Shop in January 2021. They hired two Barbers – young Pacific men aged 21 and 19 years, who were interested in supporting young people. A Coordinator, with experience working with young people, was employed to mentor the Barbers. Young men kept coming back, which gave opportunities for the Barbers to ask them if they’d like to talk with someone else, and would put them in touch with the right person or service for further support. Reflective of the South Seas motto, the Barber Shop is another door to young men to get support for issues they want help with.
A lot of the young people who were part of the Bubblegum initiative continue to be involved and some are now employed by South Seas helping run the Food Hub, and running programmes. Young people are given opportunities, guidance and support to drive and implement initiatives.