What initiated this initiative?
Within the first month of the Covid-19 pandemic, it became quickly apparent that there was a disproportionate impact of the virus across Sheffield’s BAME populations, with indications of higher rates of virus transmission, infections, severe disease and death rates within these communities. Our BAME-led community organisations sprang into action immediately, going above and beyond to support their communities with the delivery of food parcels, shopping for those ill, shielding and isolating, and providing bereavement support. However, there were no clear mechanisms in place for statutory organisations to communicate with these community groups meaning critical up-to date information, support and funding was not forthcoming, and resources were not being directed quickly to the most affected communities. The Racial Equity and Inclusion Group first met in April 2020 with the aim of establishing relationships with statutory services and ensuring that our community organisations had access to the support and information they required.
What were the key priorities and principles of the group?
The key priority of the group was to build trust between our community organisations and statutory bodies; to do this we invited the CEO of Faithstar (a BAME-led community organisation, which brings together and represents faith-based organisations across Sheffield), and one of our Public Health Principals, to co-chair the group. Both of these individuals from Faithstar and Public Health were established and trusted voices across Sheffield communities, whose approach of ‘listen, learn, reflect, action’ quickly opened up an open, honest and transparent dialogue and started to rebuild the trust with statutory bodies.
Who is involved in this group and what happens?
Group members are from over 25 BAME-led community organisations representing African, Caribbean, Somali, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Chinese, Yemini and Roma Slovak communities, plus a number of public sector representatives who attend the meeting on a regular basis.
Strategic city leaders came to talk with the group, and most importantly listened to what the group had to say. This included our Director of Public Health, Sheffield City Council’s People Director and the Deputy Accountable Officer at Sheffield CCG. 23 meetings were held in the first 8 months of the group, covering 21 different topics and 46 hours. Many more hours were spent outside meeting times making additional connections and following up on ideas, requests and recommendations made during the meetings. Importantly, from the very beginning group members were not passive receivers of support in the more traditional approach once taken, the community leaders directed the conversation and made it clear what was, and what wasn’t working well.
What have the key outcomes been of this group so far?
As a result of the group meeting the following things have been made possible:
- Opened up conversations about racism and it’s links to health inequalities, and jointly discussing, agreeing action we should take to address both of these
- Tailored marketing materials seen below and a shared portal being developed to host these assisted by critical intelligence helping to focus the campaign against vaccine hesitancy in some specific populations. Click here to view Covid-19 information in different community languages
- In April 2021 ACP’s Executive Delivery Group (EDG) will start a Reciprocal Mentoring Programme with leaders from some of our BAME-led organisations. This is designed to raise the profile of the critical work that these organisations do across the city in promoting and protecting our population’s health and wellbeing, as well as to identify and highlight racial inequalities within our public-sector organisations
- Short-term funding provided for a Business Development Manager, based within Faithstar, whose role it will be to attract more funding for Sheffield’s BAME led organisations, helping them to become more sustainable in the long-term
- Commitment from Public Health to run bespoke campaigns targeting specific BAME (African/Pakistani/Bangladeshi/Roma and Chinese) communities to reduce their risk from Covid-19
- BAME representation (from one of our community leaders) recruited to the Sheffield First Partnership Board)
- A city-wide maternity fund bid, with a focus on Perinatal Mental Health, led by a voluntary sector organisation and inclusive of several BAME organisations from the group
- Group members reporting not being marginalised due to link made via the group and access to information
- Most importantly rebuilding of trust between community and public sector organisations.
This group was intending to be a temporary group; there is now a desire from everyone involved to ensure that this becomes permanently embedded within the structures of health and social care partnership as it evolves over the next 12 months.
Below are some direct quotes from group members evidencing the impact the group is having:
‘These meeting have helped build the trust between local authorities and communities. People’s hearts are now in the right place, Thank you‘
‘The group have been supportive, and it has been great to meet and work with other local BAME organisations in the city. It is a good space to share information and help one another‘
‘The meeting has been active along with visible learning. There have been many frank discussions that are needed. Finally, the trust gap is closing‘
‘The last 9 months have been a hard journey for all, fighting inequalities together. Being able to build connections with others has been really positive‘
‘These meetings have proven that the BAME communities are not hard to reach and they are here. It is a great platform to share information and ways people are working in helping their communities. It has been amazing to work together and play a vital role. It has made such a difference to feedback and shape the city. It really has changed the voice of BAME communities‘
‘This journey has been epic, such a good practice model and should be replicated in other spaces in the city‘
‘ I have grown in confidence and it has been important for my own journey. I have access to more professionals than ever before, this has strengthened my work and my own practice. Also we (the community organisations) are collaborating working to understand how we can work better together. Lots of us had not done this in years‘
Click here to visit a series of pages that highlight the work of the BAME Strategic Group and its two sub-groups, plus the agreed action plan developed through these groups to address racial inequalities in our city.