Manchester Launches Public Health And Safety Team
Mayor Joyce Craig, Public Health Director Anna Thomas, and Chief Allen Aldenberg announced the launch of the Public Health and Safety Team (PHAST).
PHAST is an American Recovery Plan-funded initiative as a partnership between the Manchester Health Department and the Manchester Police Department which is providing a trained Community Health Worker (CHW) for all twelve wards of the City to address neighborhood-level health concerns. In addition, a Senior Services CHW will be added to the team to serve the specialized needs of our frail and aging population. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) define the scope of a community health worker as a frontline public health worker who is a member of the community who serves and improves the quality and cultural competence of service delivery.
Activities of the CHWs include, but are not limited to:
Serving as a point of contact, based on mutual trust, for policymakers and residents with neighborhood concerns;
Coordinating and mobilizing community groups to support neighborhood enhancement, engagement, and advocacy for individual and community needs;
Connecting residents to available resources to more adequately and appropriately meet their needs;
Serving as “Violence Interrupters,” an evidence-based approach to violent crime reduction. Under this model, violence is treated like a disease epidemic and can be prevented using health methods. This involves working with police to identify potential conflicts and assist with conflict resolution and mediation (https://cvg.org/); and
Responding to non-police matters that historically have been routed to police.
This program was funded through the American Rescue Plan Act funding recommendations presented by Mayor Joyce Craig and approved by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen in July of 2021. The program is a key feature of the Gun Violence Reduction Strategy released by Manchester Police Department earlier this month.
“Our Community Health Workers are already contributing so much,” said Mayor Joyce Craig. “And now our Public Health and Safety Team will be able to address neighborhood-level concerns in this thoughtful and intentional manner.”
“Starting in 2014 with our Community Schools Initiative, all the way through to COVID-19 response assistance, our CHWs have been problem-solvers and frontline connectors to our community because they are from the community,” said Public Health Director Anna Thomas. “The PHAST team model is pioneering in New Hampshire and this country because it is place-based, covering every Ward and neighborhood in the City with an added layer of connectivity to basic needs not one organization could ever achieve alone.”
“All eight of us are residents of the city,” said Biram Saidybah, Community Health Worker Supervisor. “All of us love the city and are each a trusted member of the communities we serve.”
“These specially trained workers are truly at the intersection of public health and public safety,” added Manchester Police Chief Allen Aldenberg. “Our collaborative approach with the Health Department is an innovative way to increase safety through focusing on root causes of crime and disorder from a public health perspective. This is an evidence-based approach to solve problems proactively, which will reduce calls to the police and allow all of us to better use resources to serve our community.”