Since September 2020, Bradford’s Race Equality Network (REN) has been delivering the COVID-19 Prevention Project for BAME and Central Eastern European (CEE) communities, funded by Bradford Council’s Public Health department.
This involved working with 26 community organisations to reduce the inequalities caused by COVID-19 amongst BAME and CEE communities and to disseminate culturally appropriate material and information in a wide variety of languages on Infection Control, Test and Trace and Outbreak Management.
The REN COVID-19 Helpline was launched in December 2020 to provide support, information and signposting for communities across Bradford District in multiple languages. REN has funded seven different organisations including Womenzone Community Centre, BEAP Community Partnership, Grange Interlink, New Libya Society, Hindu Cultural Society, Muslim Women’s Council and Connecting Roma CIC to run the helpline in 13 different languages: English, Urdu, Punjabi, Pashto, Arabic, Bangla, Sylheti, Roma, Polish, Czech, Slovak, Hindi and Gujarati.
Womenzone set up a general helpline after the first lockdown to support BAME women and their families with befriending support, lockdown activities and requesting food parcels. By developing their partnership with REN, the organisation has widened its reach to support service users and the wider community.
The helpline’s hours were recently extended to cover evenings and weekends to meet this need and tackle misinformation and myths around COVID-19 vaccines. The helpline is a positive example of how REN is reducing inequalities caused by language barriers. Communities often rely on translated materials and these are in short supply from official bodies which means without them people turn to family and friends for key messages. By providing correct information on COVID through translated leaflets, videos and the helpline, REN is ensuring the current information is reaching people from all communities and backgrounds.