June 13, 2011

Sue with the Mayor of HarrowI’ve been left with an overwhelming feeling, actually a glow, of admiration and inspiration having been in Harrow last week at the launch of our joint pilot campaign to reach the South Asian community.

After more than a year and a half of hard work from so many local people, the event was buzzing with an overwhelming amount of offers of support and encouragement.

Plans unveiled last night include a tie-in at the Raksha Bandhan festival for brothers and sisters in August, a roadshow at the Harrow Under One Sky event in June, mini events in religious and community settings, advertising and materials printed in Gujarati, Tamil and English.

Materials in the Harrow campaign

We will measure improvements to the knowledge, attitudes and behaviour of the 3,000 members of our core target audience (agreed in consultation and from research) who are 30 to 50 year olds (men and women).  We know they act as the gatekeepers to family decisions and are influential in family life with older and younger members of the family as well as the extended family and wider community.

One of the main benefits of working in Harrow, as a pilot, is the strength of the existing networks in the South Asian community – clearly in evidence last night with people from so many organisations and whole families who wanted to help secure change.  We hope that with the community coming together to drive social change itself we will be able to shift some of the shame and stigma by removing some of the myths and common misunderstanding.

Nina Shivji, one of our media volunteers, brought the pain of the shame and secrecy to life in her moving account of experiences within her family when she was depressed as young adult, as did Lata Chouhan, who used her experiences to develop the Khamoshi play delivered as part of Time to Change.

There are too many people to thank but none of this would have been possible without the passion and leadership from Chandra Shah (from the Open Up team) and Josie Hinton from Harrow Mind, the EKTA group, Naheed Malik from our LEAP group, and the Time to Change campaign team themselves – Lucy, Katherine, Olivia, and Laura.

We have a lot we can do if we join together.  I want to see Harrow as a beacon of hope and good practice that can be taken to South Asian communities in other towns and cities across England in the future.

Find out more about stigma in the South Asian community and our campaign in Harrow.

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