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Promoting Community Engagement in Marginalized Communities During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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The COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone in different ways. Some lost their families, jobs, livelihood, and relationships, while others are still in hospital beds, fighting the disease. There are also older adults who are exposed to higher risk because of underlying medical conditions. Marginalized communities are also heavily impacted because of community, geographical, or individual circumstances.

Local state governments nationwide are pushing their efforts to lead, support, and protect their communities from the ever-growing health threats of the COVID-19 pandemic. Community members are also rising to the challenge to navigate the ongoing crisis. Some are creating online forums or communities to monitor community events and online conversations by archiving social media activities. Community leaders who serve as page administrators allowed them to have better control when distributing information related to COVID-19 in local communities.

Amid these challenging and uncertain times, communities are still in need of policies and resources to become more resilient to the economic and health impacts of COVID-19. In this article, we will suggestions on how you can work closely with communities to promote their health and well-being.

Engaging in sanitization, awareness, and prevention campaigns

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, community health workers can do their part by supporting low resource settings. As valuable assets in preserving public health, health workers can conduct community engagement and outreach by providing health services and education.

Community engagement is a critical component in previous health outbreaks and is necessary to ensure appropriate interventions. But it has been a concern in many communities about the lack of ‘bottom-up’ approaches and involvement. One way to solve this is to create community-based strategies to highlight how community members can play active and important roles in control and prevention responses.

Companies offering cleaning and disinfection services are offering mobile disinfection services at businesses and households. Some are organizing awareness-raising campaigns where they distribute masks, informative materials, and medical equipment in local communities, health centers, and hospitals. Private individuals are also volunteering at local groups to ensure community members receive the help they need.

Legal practitioners are also helping small businesses by educating them about the relief packages they are entitled to receive from the government. They also provide legal help to business owners who want to create a comprehensive health and safety policy for their employees. Law firms are also offering online consultations about managing sick leave and travel policies and other strategies to protect jobs.

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Donating without spending too much money

Many people are willing to support community engagement strategies, but their financial capabilities are holding them back. If you’re on a tight budget, there are still other ways to extend your cause without spending thousands of dollars.

You can start by supporting the local food pantry. As the unemployment rate increases, the need for food banks is likely to rise. In the first few months of the pandemic, we have witnessed communities hoarding and panic-buying essential supplies. This led to frequent shortages in groceries and reduced food supplies. Although the ideal way to help food banks and soup kitchens is through financial support, you can extend help through volunteerism or donating non-perishable items, such as rice, beans, pasta, and canned goods.

Another way is to help hospitals and health centers source hard-to-find medical supplies, such as personal protective equipment (PPE), surgical masks, disinfecting wipes, alcohol, and sanitizer. If you have something to spare, see if local businesses, hospitals, social groups, or local food banks could use them.

Donating old gadgets or computers will also help children in their online classes and remote employees. Instead of hiding them in the drawer or stock room, look for local charities accepting old computers.

Sharing your skills

Lack of financial resources should not keep you from supporting local communities. You can also lend your skills and talent as a form of community service. It can also serve as a form of livelihood if you’re unemployed.

Social service organizations such as ACC Trust are organizing relief efforts by producing thousands of medical masks. If you have a sewing machine at home, you can help hospitals by producing homemade masks and PPEs.

If you have a background in web designing, you can help small businesses switch to an e-commerce platform by creating a user-friendly website. For financial planners, offer your skills to unemployed individuals to help them budget household expenses and find possible financial resources.

COVID-19’s social transmission and global presence require community and social responses. To promote COVID-19 prevention measures, start by following the suggestions above if you’re determined to make a greater impact in the community. You can also stay up-to-date with local and international news to replicate or adapt community engagement strategies from other communities.

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