Woman who played key role in Leeds Covid shielding programme is honoured with MBE

A Leeds woman who played a pivotal role in helping ensure the most vulnerable people across the city were kept safe during the first Covid-19 wave has been recognised in the Queen's Birthday Honours.

Saturday, 12th June 2021, 4:45 pm
Updated Saturday, 12th June 2021, 5:24 pm

Rachael Loftus, who led the Leeds Covid shielding programme for West Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership, has been given an MBE for services to the shielding programme in Leeds

Rachael, 44, who grew up in Beeston and now lives in Leeds city centre, led the partnership's response to shielding the most vulnerable in the first wave, supporting thousands of residents and enabling the system to work to get food, medicine and emotional support.

She worked across both the region and government departments in national discussions to improve the programme and support local authorities.

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Rachael Loftus MBE
Rachael Loftus MBE

Through her work to set up the shielding programme in Leeds, covering 54,000 residents, she pulled together partners across NHS, community and local government and ensured food, medicine and emotional support was provided.

Rachel said: "I’m genuinely astonished that my name was put forward and at the same time I’m immensely proud that the work I have lead on has been recognised in this way.

"Getting a medal is amazing - but the real privilege is having seen first hand the extraordinary efforts that my team, my colleagues in the West Yorkshire Councils and NHS, volunteers and workers in communities have been willing to go to, to make sure that people were protected and supported during the pandemic.”

Rachael has worked on community programmes for many years, both in the Leeds Irish community and supporting vulnerable groups such as gypsies and travellers and refugees and asylum seekers.

For 10 years this was managing a number of programmes in Leeds City Council.

She has also led the Bloomberg Cities of Service programme in Kirklees.

Her current role is head of regional health partnerships, working to improve health and care across the West Yorkshire area.

Rachael is the Chair of Leeds Irish Health and Homes and on the board of Together for Peace.