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Services launched to combat health inequalities within communities of colour

The Sheffield African Caribbean Mental Health Association (SACMHA) is providing new specialist services and resources to support people of colour in Sheffield.

covid-19 vaccine centre
Macau Photo Agency

Health inequalities between communities is a crucial issue, and one that has no doubt been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. This is something that the Sheffield African Caribbean Mental Health Association (SACMHA) is very aware of in the work they do to make community-based health and social care more accessible, especially to those who struggle to access mainstream services.

One area they’ve been focusing on is vaccine hesitancy amongst the communities they work with. Recent statistics suggest that vaccine hesitancy is higher amongst ethnic minority communities, with the most likely to be hesitant being those from Black communities (44%).

SACMHA have produced and made accessible a range of resources around Covid-19 and the vaccine, including up-to-date medical information, location of vaccination sites, and answers to frequently asked questions.

David Bussue, Service Director at SACMHA, told Now Then that “addressing vaccine hesitancy in the African Caribbean community in Sheffield is incredibly important to SACMHA.”

“[There is] such a wealth of inaccurate, and accessible, information surrounding the Covid vaccines being circulated on messaging apps and social media, so it’s important we keep our communities as up to date as possible when it comes to the vaccine.”

They’ve made available a series of webinars, hosted by healthcare experts, that also talk people through the details surrounding the vaccine. SACMHA has partnered with Manchester-based CAHN (Caribbean and African Health Network) to bring the African Caribbean community the best possible information.

This partnership involves a regular panel discussion, called the Health Hour, with a range of medical professionals from the African Caribbean community talking about their own experiences of the vaccine.

Bussue says that “it’s important to have familiar faces and trusted members of the community being open and honest about their experiences with the vaccine, as people are more likely to listen and trust them.”

As well as working on combating vaccine hesitancy, SACMHA has also launched new specialist support groups for Black men and carers. Both these groups aim to create peer-led spaces that centre on community and the rebuilding of relationships, both during and in a post-Covid world.

Bussue felt it was especially important for SACMHA to create a space where Black men can talk to each other and be vulnerable. With men in the African Caribbean community more likely to be subjected to intrusive interventions, and more likely to present higher rates of suicidal risks than their white counterparts, it’s clearly a needed space.

The second support group gives Black carers the chance to connect with others outside their bubble, but who may share similar experiences. It’s a space to remind carers that they, and their work, are recognised and valued.

“We wanted to create a space where we can care for the carers in our community, who so often fly under the radar.”

To join these support groups, or access any of the Covid-19 vaccine resources mentioned here, head to the SACMHA website for more information.

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