Preston Windrush Health Group share their experiences of racism and its impact on mental health
Healthwatch Lancashire has published a landmark report highlighting the experiences of the Windrush Health Group in Preston and how systemic racism has impacted their lives and their mental health and wellbeing. The report is titled ‘Conversations with the Windrush Health Group’.
Between March and November 2020, Healthwatch Lancashire conducted 10 interviews with members of the Windrush Health group in Preston to capture their feedback around accessing health and care services. The interviews explored how life experiences had impacted health and wellbeing.
When the group were first approached, they highlighted what they perceived were:
- Higher rates of poor health within the local community
- Concerns around mental health within the group and the wider local community
- Lack of services and support for the local community
- Lack of opportunity to share concerns about health and wellbeing with wider services.
Upon further investigation
There did not seem to be any easily accessible local data available around the health and wellbeing of local Black Caribbean communities. Further information was sought by the group through a freedom of information request, but this revealed very limited further information.
As an alternative, Healthwatch Lancashire arranged to meet with members of the Windrush Health group to hear about their experiences in March 2020. Despite challenges around the Covid pandemic and lockdown arrangements, the group were keen to continue with the engagements and a series of video calls were arranged and co-ordinated by one of the group members, Ahmed James.
Key concerns identified through these discussions highlighted the impact of racism and how it had continued to evolve and shape their experiences and the experiences of the community, and how in turn, this influenced their health and wellbeing outcomes.
Despite these challenges, the group highlighted a number of recommendations that they felt would make a difference for themselves and the wider community. These included:
- Training for NHS services and other specialist support
- Local peer support and training for community members
- Working with positive role models
- Supporting local support networks and groups
- Supporting personal action to improve wellbeing and address negativity
- Tackling and eradicating racism at a local level.
- Collective community action to support improvements.
Ahmed James, who led the interviews with the group, said, “We were really grateful to have this opportunity to have our voices heard after so many years – in particular, to have the opportunity to express ourselves around the impact of racism in our lives and how this has shaped our experiences
“We hope that by sharing our experiences now that this might lead to improvements not only in the provision of health and wellbeing services for this community, but also in changes in wider society.
The report found
One of Healthwatch Lancashire’s key functions is to seek feedback from sections within the community whose voices are seldom heard and to identify where there may be gaps or unmet needs in the provision of health and care services.
The publication of ‘Conversations with the Windrush Health Group’ highlights the challenges and concerns of Preston’s Black Caribbean community. Healthwatch Lancashire hopes to build on the findings with NHS partners and to facilitate further engagement to support the needs of this seldom-heard community.
Describing the importance of this work, Healthwatch Lancashire Manager, Kerry Prescott said, “Healthwatch Lancashire is here to listen to the views of local people, to share those views, and to amplify experiences.
“This report is a truly powerful piece that demonstrates the true experiences of an often unheard community. We are grateful and honoured that the Preston Windrush Group have trusted us to hear their stories.
“Looking ahead I am sure that this is work is part of an ongoing conversation that will contribute to meaningful change within our region and hopefully beyond.”
In terms of the next steps, Ahmed added “I am really encouraged that the NHS is listening and is interested to hear about our experiences and what needs to change. In particular, I am encouraged that Lancashire and South Cumbria Foundation Trust, are keen to learn more and to consider how services that
support mental health and wellbeing can be improved to meet the needs of this community.
“I hope this report leads to further engagement with the Windrush group and other grassroots groups within the Black Caribbean community and provides a foundation for improvements in health and wellbeing for future generations.”