National ethnic inequalities pledge making progress

Amid the national lockdown and Tiered Covid-19 restrictions, which have impacted heavily on many of the pledge signatories’ localities, Synergi has facilitated strategic local action planning meetings as part of an ongoing collaborative process.

In Leeds, an action-focused pledge workshop was delivered to the Leeds Health and Wellbeing Board, in partnership with Sarah Erskine (Health Improvement Principal, Leeds City Council) Sharon Prince (Strategic Lead for Psychology & Psychotherapy at Leeds & York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust) and Sinead Cregan (Director of Development and Innovation at Inspire North).

Chaired by Cllr Rebecca Charlwood, the council’s Executive Member for Health, Wellbeing and Adults, attendees came from across the city’s mental health systems, including NGOs and ethnic minority voluntary organisations.

Steps are underway to create a system-focused, co-produced network to ensure the pledge is part of the city’s new mental health strategy. As part of the Synergi Creative Spaces work, a new grants programme targeted at the BME third sector has just been launched by NHS Leeds and Leeds Community Foundation to reduce ethnic inequalities in mental health.

In Birmingham, a co-created, pledge-focused programme of activities are being delivered with Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (BSMHFT), led by its CEO Roisin Fallon-Williams and Executive Medical Director Dr Hilary Grant, in partnership with Catalyst 4 Change, the African and Caribbean Mental Health Hub’s Co-Directors Sandra Griffiths, Beverley Stephens and Tippa Naphtali.

Two facilitated action-orientated sessions have been held for a broad spectrum of trust personnel, including clinicians, directors, managers and staff, to identify a workable framework for a strategy to be co-produced with service users, ethnic minority community organisations and experts by experience.

In Manchester, a new Covid-19 plan for BME voluntary organisations is being tailored to reflect the pledge objectives. A planning meeting with CEOs and Nursing Directors, pledge signatories representing mental health trusts and CCGs, as well as VCS organisations will be held in January 2021, co-facilitated by Zulfi Jiva, Head of Cross Cutting Programmes, Greater Manchester Health & Social Care Partnership.

In London, a policy-focused meeting has been held with Dan Barrett, Director of Thrive London while pledge supporters, Malik Gul, Director of Wandsworth Community Empowerment Network and Consultant Psychiatrist Professor Sashi Sashidharan are working with South West London signatories (South West London CCG, South West London and St George’s Mental Health Trust and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust) on their Ethnicity and Mental Health Improvement Project (EMHIP).

Synergi is also in co-creation talks with a range of pledge supporters, such as Dr Karen Newbigging (University of Birmingham), Dr Frank Keating (Royal Holloway, University of London), Sandra Griffiths (Co-Director, Catalyst 4 Change), Akiko Hart (Director, NSUN) and Deborah Coles (Director, INQUEST), along with cultural leaders and artists for a new digital series to amplify underheard voices, good practice and interrogate what actions are necessary to reduce ethnic inequalities in severe mental illness and dismantle structural racism in line with the pledge’s seven commitments.

You can find out more about the pledge here.