This project was set up in direct response to the Covid19 pandemic and the impact this had on BAME communities.
North Kirklees suffered a high number of deaths in the BAME communities compared to the other areas of the Trust. In some cases, 2 members of the same family lost their lives to Covid-19.
Bereaved families did not have support from loved ones or from members of the wider community as they would have done normally; bereaved families receive support from the wider community and have the opportunity to meet and support each other whilst funerals take place. However, they have felt further isolated which has resulted in a greater sense of loss and anxiety due to Covid-19.
Who did you consult with and what did you ask?
People’s Voice Media, the Trust and other local partners have worked with a group of people from North Kirklees to gather stories of lived experience from affected BAME communities, using the Community Reporting methodology. Community Reporting is a peer-to-peer storytelling movement, focused on working with lived experience as a tool for social change.
The aim was to capture the impact Covid-19 on BAME Communities in North Kirklees, by training volunteers from the local community in the community reporting methodology. Following successful funds application to NHS Charities Together a project worker was appointed to commence on this piece of work. The project worker worked with the community to:
- Create key relationships with grass root services and other community partners
- Engage people to identify what creative health and wellbeing interventions could be helpful
- To co-develop with the community an application process for bids
- Recruit to and run a reference group to assess community bids (using a bottom-up approach)
People from the community were trained as community reporters. These reporters engaged members of the public to identify the issues in that area. A report of findings was developed.
What did they tell you?
The Trust worked with groups in a culturally sensitive manner to ensure people felt able to share their experiences. Harrowing and hard-hitting stories were captured by our trained community reports on the how Pandemic had affected them and the community in North Kirklees.
- One storyteller pointed out that the particular living arrangements of many BAME families – large, multi-generational families living together in one household – have exacerbated things, encouraging the spread of coronavirus and making it difficult for more vulnerable family members to effectively shield.
- One storyteller talks about the devastating effect of losing several close friends within the same month, as well as the sense of loss he felt in not being able to see or touch his elderly father, saying “many times, I was actually in tears.” In this story and others, this feeling translates into a fear of passing on the virus, to those who are elderly or vulnerable, with many people talking about anxiety, fear, and feeling as if they were struggling, with those particular words coming up many, many times.
- One storyteller says “everyone is grieving at home on their own.” This is compared to the usual grief process for the South Asian community within North Kirklees which would see funerals with hundreds of attendees. These experiences were used to formulate projects that would provide some hope and healing and look to the future, as we come out of the Pandemic.
- One storyteller, a faith leader who lost two cousins and several friends to coronavirus, says how he has had members of the community crying on the phone to him due to not being able to attend a loved one’s funeral.
What did you do?
Currently the Trust has awarded through the community panel over 12 grass roots projects with funding to deliver therapeutic interventions to the community. Quote from one of the groups funded:
“We are extremely grateful for the funding provided which has been beneficial to the community without this we would have struggled to have put on activities sessions for boys and girls. Due to the pandemic these youngsters have felt isolated, and their wellbeing has been impacted. These sessions have proven to be very popular and were booked up within a day of advertising them. This just highlights the need for interventions and activities to support BAME communities and to the need to invest in community grassroot services. These activities will be sustainable in the future due to the resources we have purchased via the funding without. Thank you investing into our project.”
The Trust will continue to work with the community reporters and build on this work to ensure that the voice and influence of local people can help to shape future mental health, learning disability and autism services in North Kirklees.
Where can you find more information about this work?
If you’d like more information on the work we’re doing to support the community in North Kirklees, please contact: Aboobaker.Bhana@swyt.nhs.uk
Engagement location: Kirklees
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