Grassroots community organisation, People Dem Collective, is reaching out to local ethnic minority communities to learn about their experiences of poor maternity services.
In recent years shocking statistics, such as those highlighted by Five X More which revealed Black women were five times more likely to die during childbirth have come to light. While this stat has reduced slightly to four times more, it is still no less shocking.
The NHS has pledged action and committed to learn more about the poorer maternity and health service experienced by Black, Asian, and ethnic minority communities and Eastern European backgrounds, whose outcomes tend to be worse.
Who better to ask the questions than a grassroots community led by the people who they are looking to speak to? People Dem Collective, a Community Interest Company (CIC) based in Margate, Kent has accepted a commission by the NHS in Kent and Medway to do a ‘deep dive’ into the community to seek real-life experiences of poor health outcomes to inform changes and improvements to the health system.
People Dem Collective (PDC), in their own words, are all about facilitating “systemic change, promoting healing and continuing the work of our ancestors by elevating the presence, work and visibility of people from Black, Brown and Diaspora communities.” The organisation was formed due to a lack of space, engagement and inclusion for these communities in mainstream dialogues. Taking on this commission from the local NHS in Kent and Medway leans into their mission for inclusion and transformation of existing repressive systemic structures.
Explaining why they commissioned this work, the local NHS in Kent said: “We know ethnic minority communities and Eastern European backgrounds have poorer experiences of maternity services and their health outcomes tend to be worse. We want to listen to communities and involve them in developing a perinatal equity and equality action plan. The overall objective is to reduce maternity inequities and health inequalities for families.”
The details of the commission involves a series of small focus groups, a survey, and a creative workshop. Kelly Abbott, co-founder and director of People Dem Collective said: “Our approach to this piece of work is to have ‘contained’ conversations to encourage and support members of Black and Brown diaspora to have these conversations.”
The focus groups will be accompanied by the survey, in the hope that the supported environment will facilitate more honest and detailed answers to the questions asked. The events will be catered, to create an environment which culturally people are used to. PDC sees the breaking of bread and communality as important when asking people to give of themselves, as it safeguards those taking part and ensures they are not harmed in the process but instead benefit from a healing element by being involved.
Additionally, artist Catherine Chinatree will be running the creative workshop, which will document the legacy of the conversations that have taken place to provide a final creative outcome, which PDC can share with the NHS.
In order to reach this wide and varied audience, PDC are working with two connectors from the Black and Roma diaspora to reach women in specific communities. They will be supported by people they know and are comfortable with when talking about one of the most vulnerable and personal things a birthing person can go through.
Victoria Barrow Williams, co-founder and director of People Dem Collective said: “We see this project as vital and integral in our mission to dismantle systemic racism, as well as highlight the individual stories of those caught up in inequalities which have left them harmed and disadvantaged by a service whose ideals are to help all equally. This piece of work will allow us to be the voice for these communities, whilst assisting the NHS to make a real and meaningful change.”
Learn more about the People Dem Collective. Visit their website.