Wokingham Borough Council is working hard to monitor the impact that Covid-19 is having on the local Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) community. Evidence continues to emerge that the pandemic could be having a disproportionate impact on our BME communities with a higher proportion of Covid-19 deaths reported.
Community Engagement Officer, Ashwani Gupta, has played a pivotal role in facilitating social inclusion across the borough through his work and links with the BME community. Working with the well-established BME Forum, which gives a voice to minority communities in the borough, Ashwani has been gathering feedback on what additional steps the council can take to support the BME community.
Ashwani Gupta, community engagement officer, said: “I’ve worked at Wokingham Borough Council for 16 years and have built strong relationships across the borough during that time. The Covid-19 pandemic has presented people with challenges they may never have encountered before.”
Parry Batth, executive member for environment and leisure and co-chair at BME Forum Wokingham, said: “I want our local BME community to know that support is available. It’s important that we break down any stigma that could be associated with catching Covid-19 and let people know we are here to help.”
Ramnik Saund, chair of the BME Forum Wokingham, added: “The BME Forum Wokingham has been working in partnership with the Council for many years. Our role in supporting the local BME community is now more important than ever with the higher risks that the Covid-19 crisis is having on people from all minority ethnic groups. I implore our community to reach out for help if they need it.”
The BME Forum was set up in partnership with the Council in 2002 in order to act as a sounding board for any BME issues affecting services of the Council. In addition, the Forum is also in place to influence the policies, practices and services of the Council to ensure that the aspirations and the needs of the BME Communities in the Borough are appropriately met.
In order to expand its reach and to ensure the right support is in place, the council is asking local BME residents to share their feedback on any challenges they have faced during the Covid-19 pandemic. The feedback provided will help to shape the services that are on offer.
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