In February and March this year a group of 18 individuals from ethnically and culturally diverse communities came together to form the Community Voices Group. They discussed issues that are important to their communities, brought together common themes and then presented their findings to members of Brighton and Hove City Council and the local NHS .
This is a brand new approach to community engagement; flipping the standard model of community research and consultation on it’s head. Instead of the agenda being set by the local authority and NHS, the Community Voices Group is empowering community members to identify issues and areas of concern and then present these to appropriate staff within Brighton & Hove City Council or Sussex NHS to explore and discuss solutions.
In this pilot phase, the Community Voices Group included 9 SIS linguists who volunteered their time to represent service users who speak Arabic, Farsi, Chinese, Greek, Hungarian, Portuguese, Romanian, and Spanish. They joined other attendees all of whom expressed a desire to investigate and learn how they might influence and inform decision maker in the City with a sincere hope that the new approach would produce tangible outcomes that could be followed through.
The Community Voices Group met with five representatives of BHCC and the NHS to discuss and ask questions about
- communication and information issues
- lack of visible diversity and cultural competency
- inconsistent support, activity and engagement with diverse communities
- the challenges in securing appointments during covid especially for people with language needs
The group was also solution focussed, generating practical ideas to help overcome these barriers and difficulties including cultural competency training for staff and more widespread use of interpreting and language support services. Advice and guidance was given, by the BHCC and NHS staff, to address some of the specific problems raised by group members and assurances that issues requiring a change in policy or approach would be looked into.
The next Community Voices Group will be discussing the important topic of ‘Vaccine hesitancy and uptake in ethnically diverse communities’ on Wednesday 14th April 6:00pm – 7:30pm
If you would like to contribute to this discussion then contact Vikki Gimson on Tel 07957 311450 so that the facilitator can send the zoom details.
Future meetings are planned to explore the topics of
- women’s health
- social care
The Community Voices Group is funded by BHCC through Third Sector Commissioning as part of the Inclusive Communties Partnership led by Trust for Developing Communities and by NHS Sussex Health and Care Partnership.