What is BLACHIR?
A partnership between the Lewisham Council and Birmingham City Council has been announced as work begins on a ground-breaking review to gather insights on health inequalities within Black African and Caribbean communities in Birmingham and Lewisham.
Both Birmingham and Lewisham Public Health Divisions shared a joint aspiration to address this and improve ethnic inequalities, through an increased understanding, appreciation, and engagement with BAME groups. This resulted in a collaboration between the two local authorities to share knowledge and resources through a review process. By focusing on different ethnic groups and communities separately, beginning with the Black African and Black Caribbean communities, this will enable a more detailed and culturally sensitive approach to the review
Birmingham and Lewisham
Birmingham is home to 8% of the overall African and Caribbean population of England. In Lewisham, Black Africans and those of Caribbean descent represent the largest population groups, amongst those of BAME heritage.
National research shows significant health inequalities are affecting Black African and Caribbean communities, which are perpetuated by inequalities in the wider determinants of health such as housing, employment, and education. These have been exacerbated by Covid-19 and undoubtedly underpin some of the excess deaths in these populations.
As part of this partnership, we have recruited 15 Academics and 9 Advisory board members. Over the next 18 months, they will work to synthesize the scientific evidence and to represent the lived experience of the Black African and Black Caribbean communities in Lewisham, Birmingham, and nationally in terms of health inequalities.
The two external boards will discuss the health outcomes and experiences affecting the communities via an online meeting platform. The content of these discussions will be resumed and analysed and will constitute the basis on which recommendations will be produced. This approach aims to combine knowledge of evidence-based research and lived experiences to inform a realistic review.
The review will inform the work of the Health and Wellbeing Board partnership and influence both Councils, NHS, academic, and community and voluntary sector partners to make sustainable changes that start to address decades of inequalities.
The discussion meetings will be chaired by Dr. Justin Varney Director of Public Health Birmingham City Council and Dr. Catherine Mbema Director of Public Health Lewisham Council.