Agenda item


Khudeja Amer-Sharif, Shama Women’s Centre, to give a presentation on the delivery of mental health Support Services for bereaved Black Minority Ethnic Women and their families in Leicester through the pioneering ‘Bereavement to Achievement programme that overcomes cultural, social and economic barriersthrough early interventions, which has been delivered by Shama Women’s Centre since 2014.


KhudejaAmer-Sharif, Shama Women’s Centre, gave a presentation on the delivery of mental health Support Services for bereaved Black Minority Ethnic Women and their families in Leicester through the pioneering ‘Bereavement to Achievement programme.  This programme overcomes cultural, social and economic barriers through early interventions and had been delivered by the Shama Women’s Centre since 2014.


During the presentation the following comments were noted:-


  • The Centre had been providing services for over 33 years.


  • There was an holistic offer of services including:-


Ø  Overcoming barriers

Ø  English as a second language

Ø  Providing the only textile training for women in Leicester

Ø  Providing creative/Social functions

Ø  Help to Find Work

Ø  Volunteering

Ø  Counselling

Ø  Bereavement

Ø  Domestic Abuse

Ø  Holistic Therapies

Ø  Health Awareness

Ø  Gym/Sauna and Nursery facilities


  • Through its holistic approach the mental health support programme had supported 1,225 women and their families; with 98% showing involved emotional and physical wellbeing.  73% had seen a reduction in the need to utilise statutory mental health services, with an estimated cost saving of £2.1m to the local Health and Social Care budget in the first 4 years of the programme.


  • The programme was funded until March 2019 by the BIG Lottery and the Centre were awaiting the outcomes of extended funding for an additional 3 years.


  • Over 15,000 women had entered work through the programme and 30,000 women had achieved qualifications particularly in IT and health and social care.  2,000 women had entered volunteering services.


  • 87% of service users had increased their health and wellbeing.


  • The majority of service users were BME women in Leicester and increasing numbers of refugee and asylum seekers were accessing services.


  • The Centre encouraged and empowered women to achieve by helping them overcoming barriers such as unemployment, educational attainment and skills, cultural, domestic abuse and FGM and health inequalities.


  • BME communities experience inequalities in accessing mental health services.  Mental health in SE Asian women often went ‘unrecognised’ and there were higher suicide rates for Asian women and they were dissatisfied with the mental health services they received and they were over represented in compulsory detention.



  • Often bereaved BME women suffered in silence through cultural norms or stigma.


  • Mapping of local services in 2014 highlighted that only 11% of BME women had taken up local bereavement counselling services by BME women.  89% of bereaved client had accessed IAPT services and found that it did not meet cultural expectations and only 7% had indicated they would use it again.


  • The Centre’s Bereavement to Achievement programme, funded by lottery funds, had started in 2014 and integrated with primary and secondary services, NHS bereavement services, IAPT and hospices and community and faith groups.  The service had subsequently been described as ‘Inspirational’ by NHS England.


  • The Centre had been successful in educating women, in partnership with the police, to challenge accepted cultural attitudes towards abuse and report crimes of abuse.


Following the presentation, the Board were shown a short video of service users experiences of using the Bereavement to Achievement programme.


Members of the Board commented on their support for the Centre and the services it provided based upon previous personal visits and experiences, especially their aim to eliminate social isolation and build users’ confidence.


Sue Locke indicated she would be interested to receive the absolute numbers in relation to the uplifts in wellbeing etc in preference to the percentages quoted; with a view to see whether the service could be adapted to fit the IAPT model, which CCGs were encouraged to use.


In response, Khudeja Amer- Sharif commented that one of the Centre’s 3 counsellors had gone to IAPT but as the centre used holistic approaches, including physical contact such as hand holding to great success, this did not meet the formal counselling model for IAPT.


The Chair thanked Khudeja Amer- Sharif for her informative presentation and responses to Members questions and echoed other Members comments on the value of the services offered by the centre.

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