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Council publishes independent report into COVID-19 response

An independent review into the response to COVID-19 in Walsall has shown that partnership working was a dominant feature, essential to meet the challenges that were presented to the community during the pandemic.  

The review conducted by the Institute for Community Research and Development at the University of Wolverhampton describes how Walsall’s partnership approach enabled people and resources to be mobilised quickly, setting aside organisational boundaries to support and protect Walsall’s most vulnerable residents.   

The review highlights strong and effective leadership from Walsall Council. It describes how at the beginning of the pandemic the immediate response by the Council was to establish two senior management officer groups which met on a daily basis. Gold Command coordinated the strategic operational response across the Borough. The tactical component of the response was located in Silver Command, which determined operational issues at a local level.  

Dr Helen Paterson, Chief Executive of Walsall Council, said, “It is really important that we learn from our experiences during the pandemic. This review helps us to capture the real essence of the vital activity that was delivered by ourselves and by our partners. 

“Like other Councils across the country, we have faced unprecedented challenges over the last two and a half years. This report shows that effective leadership, a spirit of shared endeavour and a shared sense of purpose amongst our partners were all critical to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on people living in Walsall.” 

The review sets out how many Walsall Council services were quickly adapted to be provided online during lockdowns. Council sites were made COVID-secure and more than 300 items of IT were issued to enable more Council employees to work remotely to sustain front line services. 

It goes on to describe that many elected members of the Council offered crucial and significant leadership and visibility within their communities. 

Stephen Gunther, Director of Public Health, said, “The review sets out how together Walsall responded. We worked collaboratively from the beginning of the pandemic. We built on relationships that were already in place and created new partnerships which I am eternally grateful for. COVID-19 hasn’t gone away, and we still have work to do to ensure that we engage with all of our communities in the most effective way to protect residents from the virus and from any future crises that we may face.” 

The review highlights that the response to the pandemic evidenced multiple examples of agile, innovative and resilient local governance in the face of a crisis. It details the challenges that were experienced in engaging with Walsall’s diverse and socioeconomically disadvantaged communities and the important role played by Community Associations. 

Data for the review, which was commissioned by Walsall Council, was collected at the beginning of this year from a series of in-depth interviews. 

Learning from this review will help to ensure that multi-agency work is further developed in Walsall to support the response to future crises.  

To read the full review go to: www.wlv.ac.uk/media/departments/research/icrd/22.-COVID-Review_Final-Report_July-2022.pdf 

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