A KEIGHLEY community group has been working to overcome stigmatisation in order to help people suffering due to Covid 19.

The Bangladesh Community Association has provided essential food packs to local residents who were struggling financially. The volunteers decided to rebrand the packs as 'gifts' and include other items to make them more acceptable to people.

Eyarun Nessa, the BCA's Community Engagement Coordinator, said: "There were a lot of independent people in the community who were suffering silently and not reaching out for help due to stigmatisation.

"We overcame these barriers by re-branding the food packs as gifts instead of donations and also included other gifts. This was ever so important, especially during the month of Ramadan. Covid-19 made it stressful to shop for food, and we didn't want people waiting in long queues while fasting."

The BCA, which usually hosts activities at the Bangladeshi Community Centre in Holycroft, identified a need for laptops for school work, scrubs for NHS workers, and private tutors for children.

Eyarun said: "We worked alongside other organisations to provide the community with a variety of live and recorded virtual activities to instil routine and keep both adults and children actively engaged.

"With things changing rapidly with Covid-19, we were constantly checking on the well-being of our service users and capturing new needs that derived from the changes. Laptops and tablets were provided to help children with school work as most households were either sharing a device or using mobile phones for school work."

Eyarun said that some parents with language problems, especially from the BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) community, were struggling to support children with school work.

She added: "Although schools have been great in terms of their support, these parents felt children could benefit from a live tutor.

"BCA therefore secured funding to support the cost of private tutors for the most deprived families. We partnered with Kip McGrath to provide 121 tutor sessions via live video.

"Children were also provided with arts and craft and sports equipment's to keep them engaged at home. BCA has also been helping NHS workers with homemade scrub bags and face masks made by our wonderful volunteers. These were distributed out to local surgeries."

"A massive thank you to our volunteers who have supported our initiative to help the community."

The BCA's support efforts have been sponsored by Cliffe Castle, Salvation Army, Leeds Community Grant and Art-Star.