CLLR CAROLE Williams, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Equalities, has described the official report into coronavirus impacts as ‘disappointing’ after not going deep enough in its investigations of the heavy impact on BAME communities.

However, she said: “We welcome the news from the Equality and Human Rights Commission, that they will be investigating the impact of coronavirus on Black, Asian and Ethnic communities, and are hoping to develop evidence-based recommendations so as a country we can take urgent action to tackle entrenched racial inequalities when fighting the virus.”

She earlier wrote to the Commission strongly urging them to investigate the matter – https://www.hackney-labour.org.uk/hackney-labour-fights-on-to-tackle-inequality-of-impact-of-covid-19/

The need to end racial inequality in this country is being strongly supported by Hackney Labour.

The report into the ethnic disparities in Covid-19 deaths makes for sobering reading, reflecting as it does the socio-economic inequality between people of different ethnicities in this country.

Cllr Carole Williams

In response to the Goverment report into how different factors have affected COVID-19 risk and outcomes, she says: “Ahead of tonight’s Health in Hackney Scrutiny committee, we would like to welcome the attendance of governments SAGE members, including Professor Fenton who is investigating the impacts of Coronavirus on different groups of people.

The issues raised in Public Health England’s recent report into coronavirus are vitally important and spell out what we already know: that people from Black and Asian backgrounds, as well as those with protected characteristics, are up to twice as likely to die of coronavirus than those from White backgrounds.

We need to know why this is the case and we are disappointed that the report doesn’t go further into investigating the reasons behind this. We also want to see recommendations for minority communities not covered in the report, such as locally for our Orthodox Jewish communities.”

Cllr Williams went on: “Both the council and partners in the wider health system are working on new risk assessments and working conditions to make workplaces safe for all staff, but this task is difficult without clear recommendations from national bodies like PHE and NHS England.

Though we are disappointed with this report, we welcome the news from the Equality and Human Rights Commission, that they will be investigating the impact of coronavirus on Black, Asian and Ethnic communities, and are hoping to develop evidence-based recommendations so as a country we can take urgent action to tackle entrenched racial inequalities when fighting the virus.

We also welcome assurances from Professor Fenton who is making efforts to provide local councils with actionable recommendations.”

Cllr Williams concluded: “We need to address the questions of underlying causes, we need something that speaks from the community perspective and provides examples and case studies of how we start addressing these disparities.

“We need meaningful actions now that will ultimately help us save lives.”

……………………………………………………………………………………………………….

From Sky News, 9 June 2020:

Coronavirus: ‘Structural racism’ must be taken into account when dealing with BAME deaths | UK News

Coronavirus: ‘Structural racism’ must be taken into account when dealing with BAME deaths | UK News

“Structural racism and social inequality” should be taken into account when looking at the impact of COVID-19 on Britain’s black, Asian and minority ethnic, according to an expert involved in a recent review.

Professor Kevin Fenton was a major part of a Public Health England (PHE) report – ordered by the government – into why the BAME community has been disproportionately affected by coronavirus.

It found people from BAME groups were up to twice as likely to die with COVID-19 than those from a white British background.

The review was also meant to offer recommendations, but sources have told Sky News that these were “held back” by the government.

Speaking at a public meeting for Hackney Council, Prof Fenton said: “Over the last six weeks I’ve worked with over 4,000 individuals to understand what are some of the contextual issues that are driving the excess risk amongst, black, Asian and minority ethnic groups.”

“Social economic deprivation plays a role in vulnerable communities and those vulnerabilities can have a huge impact on how COVID becomes rooted in communities and transmitted and the impact it can have.

“There are factors of risk of exposure to COVID among BAME communities, like occupational risk – if you’re a key worker like taxi driver, or bus driver or if you’re a key worker likely to be infected from COVID.

“Some of the structural issues, like racism, discrimination, stigma, distrust, fair, these are real issues that are challenging for the communities and are seen as underpinning some of the disparities we see for COVID.

“Any conversation about what we need to do, should take into consideration these things.

“What do we do with this learning and where do we go next? I think of pace and impact, we are coming out of the first phase of the epidemic, we need to make sure our communities are resilient and prepared and learn the lessons for a second wave in the autumn.

“We should be looking at how we engage with culturally competent messages, around prevention, around taking control within communities around the steps they can take to prevent this transmission of COVID.”

Prof Fenton’s analysis was sent to the government with further recommendations which were not published alongside the report last Tuesday leading to claims details had been “held back” by ministers.

9 June 2020

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