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Community Project

Covid 19 - Sept 2021

Who could have known 18 months ago that we would live in lockdown, a new word to many of us? Many of our communities undertake front line low paid work which has been at a much higher risk of contracting the virus.

In the beginning when I saw the impact on my community and the BAME community I put inequalities at the heart of this devastation.  Someone who led on race and equality I was fully aware of equity and inequalities that blighted our lives was the cause of the deaths but even I was shocked at the disproportionate effect in my community.  The first person known to me died in the first two weeks of the pandemic.  I was receiving calls from all over the country and as far as the USA, Bangladesh where my relatives live, either in the hospital or on ventilators.  I was afraid to take calls.  I stopped counting after about 10 known deaths. 

In Colchester, I heard several people and their entire family with covid.  You see they were the frontline workers, working as taxi drivers, food shops or in take aways.  They were bound to catch this virus.  There was hardly any escape for the bottom of the heap community and the working class. They had to work, they had to feed their families.  Many were not eligible for furlough, another new word we learnt.

When the vaccination program was announced.  I felt relief but was very worried about my community as misinformation and videos started to follow.  Haram and halal issues came up.  After a couple of reads, my daughter told me to stop these rumours and not to share the stuff.  So, if anyone sent me stuff, I would confront them and tell them to stop it.  

Then suddenly out of nowhere and unaccepted the offer from our NHS friends Suffolk and North Essex ICS Team to vaccinate the community volunteers.  We jumped at the offer. 15 of us from BWAE and the Colchester Mosque got the vaccination done.  I think we got a call in the morning and the same afternoon we went to Ipswich to get our vaccine done.  At that time many of us were volunteering in the community to support our community taking risks to our lives.

Following this NHS, BWAE and the mosque started planning about how we get the community vaccinated.  We met at the Colchester Stadium and went through the vaccination area to make things easier in terms of the vaccine Centre being culturally and religiously sensitive eg partition for women where vaccination can be given with privacy.  We also wanted to escort some people as they were nervous or needed translation. NHS listened.

Community Ambition Programme

This programme was born out of the tragedies of Covid 19. Community Ambition Programme focuses on the Bangladeshi and Muslim community across North East Essex and will form and expand partnerships with statutory and voluntary organisations working in partnership with the Ipswich Bangladeshi Community, linking in with other BAME networks within the integrated Care systems to share best practices. 

The project aims to improve access to health services and information sharing.  One of the big parts of the project will be to carry out a health needs assessment. The aims will be to identify the needs of Bangladeshi and the Muslim community to improve the designing of future services and information.

By the end of the need’s assessment, the following will be identified to design services: 

- High priority health problems and services.

- An indication of the magnitude of the health problem and services.

- A target group with a set of clearly identified characteristics. 

- A set of contributing factors for the health problem and services.

- An indication of community resources to be involved in the health planning process.

- New ideas, strengths, and opportunities.

Solma Ahmed

Project Co-ordinator

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