Improving relatability when reaching underserved communities.

Bakare Barley Ltd was commissioned by Bliss to explore how the charity could improve its reach and empower all families, parents and carers of babies born premature or sick to be more confident in their roles, better informed about neonatal care, better connected to the people and services they need, & more involved in caring for their baby.

Health Inequalities for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Women

Recent studies have illustrated that outcomes for women accessing maternity services are not equal. There are significant gaps in mortality rates between women from deprived, and affluent areas, for women of different ages, and different ethnic backgrounds. The 2021 MBRRACE-UK report outlines that Black women are four times more likely to die than White women, and that women from the most deprived areas are twice as likely to die than those from affluent areas.  They also face additional challenges including mental health disorders, domestic abuse and substance misuse.

The report also highlights the need for an increased targeting around reducing preterm infant mortality, as about 70 per cent of all extended perinatal deaths occur before term, and nearly 40 per cent occur extremely preterm (MBRRACE-UK Report, 2021).

What we did

Bliss wanted to understand the barriers faced by communities that experience health inequalities due to their ethnic origin, and to increase uptake of its support services by these groups. They wanted to focus on how to improve the confidence of all carers and families, ensuring they have the information and support services they need and can be actively involved in the care of their baby, and understand RSV, no matter their background.

It was important that the review would uncover practical and timely solutions to support the RSV project to reach, engage and support all families, therefore Ayo Barley was commissioned to lead the review to provide independence, expertise and connections to community organisations in socio-economically deprived areas of the North of England.

A series of research questions were agreed and over 15 interviews took place involving community based organisaitons based in the North of England covering Liverpool, Wirral, Bradford, Wakefield, and Derby.  The organisations included children’s centres, faith based organisations, local infrastructure organisations, community centres, refugee and asylum seeker support services, mental health services, the NHS, and charities supporting families. In addition, the RSV video and web page was circulated to WhatsApp groups to gain views on relatability.


The outcome

Bliss received a report and recommendations which captured the lived experience of over 100 Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic women including predominantly Bangladeshi women who spoke Arabic, Somali, Egyptian, Palestinian, Syrian, including asylum seekers and people who have varied levels of English language skills.  The project also engaged with women of Black African backgrounds of predominantly Nigerian heritage who spoke Yoruba / English.

A number of recommendations provided Bliss with support in making some short-term practical changes for the RSV project, and longer term sustainable changes to embed good practice across all support and information to be more includive of women facing Health Inequalities.

“Just to say a really big thank you for this, it’s a really strong piece of work, very resonant and illuminating, and practical as to what we can do constructively to make a difference”.

Peter Bradley, Director of Services, Bliss (February 2022)


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