Hywel Dda University Health Board is leading the way with a new project which will see a team of experienced community workers reach out to ethnic minority people living in Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire to help them during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The project was set up in response to recommendations in a Welsh Government report on tackling health inequalities experienced by black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.
This one-year project has been made possible thanks to a £75,000 grant awarded by NHS Charities Together to Hywel Dda Health Charities, the official charity of Hywel Dda University Health Board.
A three-strong outreach team led by Stepheni Kays, Community Development Outreach Manager started its work last month, engaging with communities that have been adversely affected by Coronavirus and the disproportionate impact that COVID-19 has had on people from minority ethnic communities.
The team will be reaching out to the 10,000-plus people from minority ethnic communities living in the three counties which make up the Hywel Dda University Health Board area.
The health board’s Head of Partnerships, Diversity and Inclusion, Helen Sullivan, said the project was innovative and would focus on building links and encouraging feedback and interaction.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity to lead the way in engaging with communities which have suffered adversely during the pandemic,” said Helen.
“Establishing effective networks for engaging with individuals, families, communities and with trusted intermediaries will require the community development outreach workers to be visible in the area. Our approach acknowledges that Hywel Dda University Health Board covers one-quarter of the landmass of Wales and will ensure that we can provide an accessible and responsive service across our large geographical area, which has a population of 384,000.”
The community development outreach workers will develop close links with local authorities, third sector organisations and community groups to raise awareness and understanding of the Test Trace Protect (TTP) process and the COVID-19 vaccination roll-out programme. The team will ensure wider health messages are culturally accessible and support minority ethnic communities to have a greater understanding of their rights and access to health care.
Data from StatsWales shows that 3.9 per cent of the Carmarthenshire population are from minority ethnic groups, with 1.9 per cent in Pembrokeshire and 1.3 per cent in Ceredigion (as of June 2020).
Ros Jervis, Director of Public Health for Hywel Dda University Health Board, added: “The community development outreach workers will be the link between the health board and our communities. They will support community cohesion actions and aim to remove any barriers to accessing services.
“This will support minority ethnic communities through increased local knowledge and cultural awareness, encouraging early intervention and prevention to improve health outcomes.”
The project has been developed drawing on the recent evidence base and publications about the impact of COVID-19 on ethnic minority communities in Wales, as well as the wider UK.