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Bangla HA and Covid-19

Bangla Housing Association, based in East London where there is a high proportion of Asian and ethnic minority residents, recently secured a grant from the National Lottery Community Fund, which is supported by Government, to create a Covid-19 advice project for the Bangladeshi communities in Hackney and Tower Hamlets.

BHA secured the grant, working in partnership with Spitalfields Housing Association and supported by BME London Landlords group of 14 BME led Registered Social Landlords.

In this blog post, BHA chief executive Bashir Uddin, explains the origins and aims of the project.

The Bangladeshi community in Hackney and Tower Hamlets is the largest Bangladeshi community in the country. Bangladeshis suffer twice the Covid 19-related death rate compared to people of white British ethnicity, according to Public Health England.

Research from NHS England, Public Health England, the Runnymede Trust and a number of health think tanks provide a number of reasons for this phenomenon.

They include greater poverty, intergenerational living, being in higher risk occupations, and significantly, poorer uptake of information. All point out that these factors combine to impact this community disproportionately in terms of infection, hospital admissions and death rates.

As the number of coronavirus cases are on the rise again, it is vitally important that we must get the message out effectively because with the right advice we can save lives.

Many in the Bangladeshi community have first-hand experience of those who have died during the pandemic. Personally, I have lost two close relatives due to this virus. One of them was just 44 years old. It’s clear that the messages about how to stay safe have not been getting through.

Working with Spitalfields Housing, Bangla Housing Association will use its grant from the National Lottery Community Fund to launch a project based on following three clear practical steps.

1. Employ two Bengali speaking health professionals for six months who will visit Bangladeshi homes from the Housing Associations and the communities within which they live. The health professionals will network and liaise with NHS providers and local authority teams in Hackney and Tower Hamlets. Their role will be to provide culturally sensitive but practical advice, particularly in advance of any second spike in cases.

2. With the help of the health workers and partners, we will develop a translated leaflet and campaign materials that will be distributed via a range of community organisations, schools and youth associations. The information will be paired with presentations by the health workers, as well as handed out during visits to homes.

3. We will produce a digitally sharable short video to post on the Bangla and Spitalfields Housing Associations websites and Facebook pages for the Bangladeshi community. The videos will be shown at community events including lunch clubs for the elderly in Hackney and Tower Hamlets, at mosques, and other local community groups.

The project will aim to reach most of the 10,000 households and 40,000 strong community across both boroughs. Emphasis will be given to the most vulnerable, including the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.

The project will also recruit volunteer ambassadors who will support the health workers to impart information through social media campaigns and undertake awareness raising campaigns in local schools. These ambassadors will, mainly be, young people and local community leaders.

Our COVID-19 advice project starts at the beginning of October and will run for six months.

This is a timely project focused on getting clear messages out to the Bangladeshi community in their first language, which is not a method yet being used to provide targeted advice to an at-risk community on how to protect itself from the risk of COVID-19.

This funding from the Coronavirus Community Support Fund distributed from the National Lottery Community Fund will help us reach those who are vulnerable and at-risk in the Bangladeshi community in East London and get them to realise how serious it is to protect yourself against Covid-19 and the serious consequences if they do not.

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