A ‘GROUND-BREAKING’ pilot project to protect Slough’s black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) community from coronavirus has been deemed successful so far.

Councillors heard at a virtual health scrutiny panel on Tuesday (September 8) how the project was protecting and communicating with BAME communities following a damning national report showcasing those from a BAME background are ‘disproportionately’ affected by the virus.

Key factors include higher levels of deprivation, population density, higher than average reliance on public transport, and living in a multigenerational household.

The programme aims to engage with BAME communities, workforces, and faith leaders by working with partners such as Slough Community & Volunteer Sector (CVS), Frimley Health, and more, to communicate in multiple languages how to protect themselves from Covid-19, provide safety measures, and share the latest guidance.

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According to the report, 27 per cent of Slough’s population is recorded as not speaking English as a first language with 56 per cent of residents being from a BAME background.

A working group has been established made up of members of the council, Slough CVS, schools and East Berkshire CCG, to create translated material in Urdu and Punjabi for those who can’t read English, go on radio, advertise, and engage on social media by creating videos on YouTube and TikTok with Aik Saath for young people and Slough MP Tan Dhesi on personal messages behind Covid-19.

A Covid-19 initiative has also been launched for residents to nominate a ‘community champion’ to relay trusted updates and advice to family, friends, and neighbours on the latest guidance and how to stay safe.

More information on community champions can be found here: https://oneslough.org.uk/champions/

The group will also monitor and collect data on Slough’s BAME community to develop a ‘needs assessment’ to identify if interventions need to be made as well as exploring the impact of coronavirus on the BAME population in Slough.

Symptomatic patients can go to a virtual ward to have one-to-ones with their GPs to support and manage their symptoms and to see if testing or going to A&E is required.

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This was launched on August 17 where seven people tested positive and four negative.

Councillor Dexter Smith (Conservative: Colnbrook with Poyle) called this work ‘ground-breaking’ and asked if their data shows if people’s housing environment make catching Covid-19 more likely or if it makes the severity worst.

Dr Vanita Dutta, public health programme manager, said: “We are seeing Covid-19 cases more in the highly dense areas like around Farnham Road or Chalvey rather than areas which are scarce in terms of housing.

“So, yes, there is certainly link and housing is affected by ethnicity sometimes.

“There is evidence that it does get affected by housing – hence why we are doing a lot of work with young people about educating them about to keep safe, keeping their nan safe, and how they can maintain their social distancing and how following the guidance would help their grandparents.”