The Afghan Association London works towards creating a positive change in the quality of life for the Afghan community in London. Through the Covid Awareness fund they have successfully encouraged the Afghan community in Harrow and surrounding areas to increase uptake of the vaccine, combat misinformation and provide much needed emotional support.
- Solved issues through holistic and personal approaches delicate to community needs.
- Worked with families and asylum seekers to ensure access to healthcare
- Collaborated with community, religious and healthcare leaders
Social Community Social Message
The Afghan community is incredibly sociable. Being around family and friends is as important as anything. With the pandemic creating an increased lack of integration of some of the Afghan community, the Afghan Association London saw an increase in isolation, unemployment, income inequality, domestic violence, health issues and family breakdown. Women in particular were adversely affected due to their increased caring responsibilities.
The pressure and stress seen in the community has only been exacerbated by the strict no travel guidelines and lack of social contact with international relatives. With misinformation even more fraught in some of these international countries, the emotional toll on Harrow residents here was severe due to a feeling of helplessness.
Languages and understanding also proved to be a barrier with misinterpretation of rules and guidelines.
Translating and Removing Barriers
From the start, it was a community effort rallying around their community. Led by staff and volunteers the group connected with community leaders to spread public health messages about Covid-19. Helping over 3000 families, they enhanced communications and best practice by translating information into Afghan languages ensuring messages were consistent, credible and clear. Having worked in Harrow for over 20 years, the trust they had built meant they were well placed in knowing what approaches would work and who was in need of support. For example, they helped over 50 asylum seekers with access to covid vaccines and healthcare.
Their ways of communicating were multifaceted using a variety of social media, telephone calls, webinars and meetings. Within these communications they were able to engage and collaborate with multiple agencies. Talks and advice were shared from healthcare professional and religious leaders, focusing on social messaging that would resonant with their community. This way priority was on communicating on protecting others and “safety first”, proving to be a successful avenue to open up conversation to build on and establish new relationships with people so they could make informed decisions about their own health, as well as the people around them.
They also combated disagreement and criticism in a unique way choosing not to dismiss the feelings and emotions, but inviting the conversation and creating a dialogue. This proved to be an effective way of helping to remove concerns and change attitudes.
“Gave Us Opportunity To Engage”
The Afghan Association would have struggled to do the amount they did without the funding. It was crucial in ensuring workers had the resources (time, expertise and ability) to make a positive impact. As they remarked “We couldn’t have achieved what we achieved”.