Summary of report content
During June – September 2020 Healthwatch Brent carried out extensive community engagement, contacting, sourcing, listening and speaking to our residents about their experience of information, support and services subsequent to the first wave of COVID-19. They spoke to over 1,000 peoples with a focus on residents that were from hard to reach communities. This included the Sickle Cell community, South Asian people with HIV and, persons with complex learning difficulties. They undertook this engagement as the COVID-19 BAME Public Health England report highlighted the direct effect of COVID-19 on Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic (BAME) populations, and because Brent has been particularly badly hit by the pandemic and over 60% of its population come from minority ethnic backgrounds.
People wanted information in easy-read and community languages and asked that translated information to be made available to key community leaders for dissemination. Many were unable to access services and felt left out of council updates, due to a lack of digital resources. Some members of the BAME community – particularly those with language barriers, mental health difficulties and mobility issues – fear they are being ignored and excluded from communications and interventions ● There are growing sentiments of mistrust with central services and therapies such as flu vaccines stemming from ‘confusing’ COVID-19 communication.
People praised local pharmacies who can give a more hands on approach to residents and Brent Council for the walk-in testing centre in Harlesden which they found convenient and easy to navigate. People with learning disabilities noted delays to receiving COVID-19 test results and experienced difficulty using self-administered test kits. Some people experienced food poverty and economic poverty and were worried about the future.
The report concludes with recommendations aimed at addressing the issues identified in the research.