Ethnic inequalities in health in Ealing and the effect of Covid-19 in BAMER communities.

Health, social and economic inequalities in Britain for people from black and ethnic minority communities are well documented and have been an issue for many years. The current pandemic has focused the spotlight on these issues and made visible the stark reality of being different.

Earlier this week, a report by Public Health England published data that raises a great deal of worry; minorities are disproportionately affected. Asian, Caribbean and Africans are significantly more likely to die from Covid-19, be worse off economically, and suffer from the exacerbated conditions of overcrowding in their homes.

Children & Young People:

For our children from BAMER communities that are unable to benefit from remote school or ESDEG’s mentoring and supplementary classes during this time, we are very likely to see a decline in aspiration, development and a widening of the attainment gap.

For our BAMER young people who have recently joined, or are hoping to join the workforce, the impact has been extremely challenging and there is growing research to evidence the long-term negative impact Covid-19 is likely to have on young people entering the labour market, especially if there is a deep recession.

Our Communities:

Some communities have not yet been adequately assessed in terms of the impact of Covid-19. The economic impact of the pandemic on the Somali community, for instance, in Britain and especially in London is immense. Many Somalis are key workers operating in transport, health and social care services, catering, and the public sector. The scale of job losses within the community due to Covid-19 is huge and cannot at this stage be quantified. Initial feedback from our service-users and from leaders of the community who are part of our network suggests that nearly everyone knows someone in their close kinship network who has died or lost their job, with furloughing being insufficient to meet their day-to-day living costs. Many Somalis that are elderly live alone, or have high incidence of mental illness, partly a legacy of the civil war in Somalia since in the 1990s.

Many have begun to lose confidence in the government and their response to COVID-19. We are aware of these vulnerable groups asking their loved ones to ‘not take them to a hospital as they fear they will not come back home’. The main reasons are understood to be a concern that they will not be cared for properly with rumours in the community of people dying in hospital corridors.

The lack of understanding of the virus, including transmission, is one of the reasons why Somalis and other BAMER groups are suffering disproportionately from Covid-19 infections and death rates. In ESDEG’s geographical area of remit, the number of fatalities known to us is extremely high and tragically includes some of our own service users.

Lessons Learned:

We know that infectious diseases such as TB have been prevalent within the Somali community for a long time. So there are important lessons here we can take forward to address the challenge of Covid-19.

One such lesson is the lifestyle of the close-knit community where communities typically gather in large groups for long periods of time in cafes and restaurants. This is obviously a heightened risk factor when it comes to infectious diseases and one that have been initially prevented through lockdown measures. However, awareness-raising efforts are needed to continue to inform people of the risks and to encourage communities to be vigilant beyond the formal measures. Even in the peak of the lockdown we have seen people in large groups still using town centre and outdoor café seating. Whilst this goes against our natural instincts as a people to gather, this is a central behaviour change we must continue to educate on during the critical months ahead.

ESDEG’s Commitment:

ESDEG has re-doubled its efforts to provide as many services as we can remotely, as well as implementing essential emergency services such as providing food parcels to the most vulnerable in the community.Covid 19 goes hand in hand with deprivation and poverty.

We are steadfastly committed to working collaboratively with public bodies and will continue to both share and emphasise the importance of our evidence to ensure that no person is forgotten nor impacted by Covid-19 to an extent that they cannot physically, mentally or economically recover.

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