Community Voices: Voices for Change – Reflections on Impact of COVID on BAME Communities and Frontline Staff
Community Voices as an approach was born out of this frustration, it is an ambitious and collective plan to address inequality and given the impact of COVID on BAME communities that is our focus and starting point. Community Voices hears what matters to people, it gathers the stories of our communities, in their own words and through their preferred formats, in doing so, it joins the dots across systems and gives priority to the root causes of race and other inequalities. This approach is driven by a strong belief that the logical starting point for change can only be achieved through honest, open conversations with communities and frontline staff on agendas that matters to them.
How did Community Voices start:
A simple invitation to join a conversation on how we make sense of what is happening in our BAME communities started with 4 people, who invited 4 more people, who then shared the work with others who came together so that we have now over 40 people overwhelmingly from BAME communities working across health, in care – working in grassroots community organisations, as community organisers, as community activists, as faith leaders, as doctors nurses and carers, in patient groups, as researchers – contributing generously their time, their skills and expertise and collating 50 stories for change in the short space of 4 weeks. The stories are all from what we tend to call ‘hard to reach’ or rather ‘easy to ignore’ residents, front-line staff and communities.
Community Voices share their stories and patient experiences (see picture)
Recommendations that emerged from Community Voices:
- Prioritise opportunities to engage directly with BAME staff affected by COVID-19 and understand their experience in the context of wider systemic inequalities.
- Lead on developing cultural change in your organisation and share your story of what this means. This could include changes focused on removing the cultural and structural barriers to establishing and maintaining strong relationships with people at the front line as well as the communities you serve.
- Strengthen your intelligence base using EIA, WRES and where there are gaps work collectively across your system to fill these and make it public
- Connect further with BAME communities to understand how race and ethnicity shapes the access they have to public services and public space
- Work beyond your organisational and service boundaries; work with BAME people and particularly those impacted by COVID-19. Share your learning, insights and solutions so that we can all develop a more holistic and coordinated approach to tackling inequality and its underlying cause.
- Join Community Voices in reflecting on these 2 short Community Voices films highlighting: