On Monday 8th June, a BME Talkshop event was held at Touchstone House, organised by the West Yorkshire – Finding Independence (WY-FI).
Poster Showing a ‘Perfect Service’
The West Yorkshire – Finding Independence (WY-FI) project is one of the 12 Big Lottery funded Fulfilling lives projects working with people with entrenched multiple and complex needs to engage and access appropriate services to achieve full recovery and independence. WY-FI has been operational for a year now and supports people who are experiencing 3-4 of the following needs- Homelessness, Mental Health, Re-offending and Substance Misuse as well as not engaging effectively with services.  So far, referrals for BME individuals have been lower than anticipated. WI-FI is keen to understand reasons for this and more importantly, how to improve accessibility into the WY-FI project for BME individuals.
Thus, the purpose of the TALKSHOP attended by workers, leads, service users and volunteers from BME and non-BME backgrounds, was to explore collectively, multiple and complex needs within BME communities with particular emphasis on effective engagement and access to services. The process was part of an ongoing Action learning research activity that will feed into a wider project evaluation and exploration of system change strategies.
Over 20 participants from agencies across all 5 WY-FI localities (Leeds, Wakefield, Kirklees, Calderdale and Bradford)
both staff and service users, attending from a variety of areas and services including, Lifeline, Leeds Mind, Piccadilly Project, African Womens Support Project, Racial Justice Network, Health Watch- Kirklees, Dial House, Calderdale Recovery Steps and The Halifax Central Initiative.
The session tasks encouraged participants to think creatively and innovatively around barriers faced by BME individuals when accessing services. The outcome was to come up with effective strategies and service models that will enable and enhance engagement and access to services for BME individuals. Activities and discussions also prompted reflections about the way we use language to conceptualise complex and multiple needs issues.
There was a strong and collective resolve amongst participants to move beyond ‘stating the problem’ and to begin meaningful dialogue.This included working collectively and building strong partnerships with communities, services, commissioning bodies, service users and other strategic streams to work towards finding lasting solutions and systemic change that will ensure sustainable improvement in access to services for BME individuals.
The session offered a networking opportunity for services that work with similar individuals across West Yorkshire, and to encourage a coordinated approach to issues, both on the front line and at a strategic level.
The idea of a BME Engagement and Access Network as a mechanism to develop the initial outcomes of this session and future work was welcomed and will be looked into by the WY-FI BME Engagement team.
If you are interested in getting involved with the research, or would like to be informed of any similar events in the future, please email wy-fi@touchstonesupport.org.uk
For more information on the WY-FI project, please visit www.wy-fi.org.uk or follow us on twitter @WYFI_BME