Town’s Black communities pull together to fight Covid-19

Members of Slough’s Black communities have been reaching out via churches, a podcast, and social media to confront the dangers of Covid-19.

They have been working in a variety of ways with the #OneSlough project to help people stay safe. This comes as the town’s Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) community is generally at a higher risk of catching and suffering poorer outcomes from the virus.

Student and Aik Saath volunteer, Mary De-Wind, 20, has produced a podcast – https://yesslough.org.uk/maz-gets-tested/ – to talk young people through taking a coronavirus test at the Montem Lane testing centre. On her “Maz Talks” podcast, Mary dispels the myths associated with taking a test and adds, “You will be out of there in a jiffy.”

Meanwhile, people from different generations have addressed their communities in a safety-message video – https://yesslough.org.uk/maz-gets-tested/ – on social media. They urge fellow residents to continue to follow Government guidelines including wearing masks in enclosed spaces, socially distancing, being mindful of older and vulnerable citizens, and washing hands regularly.

And churches have been working with community group Apna Virsa to issue essential safety messages at the conclusion of their services – online and in person. The churches, which altogether have vast numbers of BAME members, include The Redeemed Christian Church of God Emmanuel in Langley, Slough Baptist Church in Windsor Road, and New Testament Church of God in Herschel Street.

Furthermore, community charity, St Kitts & Nevis Association Slough (SANAS), has been regularly keeping in touch with its vulnerable members through their wellbeing team. Up to 50 people who are elderly or live alone have received regular phone calls and advice on how to stay safe. SANAS will also be starting a blog and sharing further safety messages through the Slough Caribbean Forum and other platforms.

Jocelyn John, a Colnbrook parish councillor who’s been working with #OneSlough, said: “Of course, the changes since the lockdown have been hard on everyone.

“For black communities, there has been a huge impact on social gatherings, especially bereavements since these are often large events with up to 200 or even 300 people wanting to pay their respects.

“To have that reduced to modest numbers has been painful for many, but it’s important we continue to pay attention to social distancing, hand-hygiene and face-covering rules to ensure we can eventually return to normal.”

Ramesh Kukar, chief executive of Slough Council for Voluntary Service (Slough CVS), which is delivering #OneSlough at ground level, said: “The efforts of BAME communities to come together for the greater good have been outstanding, and I’d like to thank everyone involved, especially Seema from Apna Virsa for co-ordinating the project with the voluntary sector.

“The work continues with the #OneSlough Community Champions network empowering Slough residents to remain up to date and share the latest advice about COVID-19 with family, friends and neighbours.”