We work with statutory agencies and communities to improve the access of
vulnerable and excluded groups to local services. There is a failure in social
justice and fairness when services such as healthcare, justice, housing and
education are not delivered equally across the community because specific
groups are unable to access the facilities that ought to be available to them.
Unmet needs drive multiple deprivation, stoking up social tensions, including violent radicalisation, ill health, unemployment and under-employment and driving up the future costs of remedial action to tackle the needs that build up over the years. Children bought up in poor housing may suffer life-long medical conditions and be unable to achieve the educational standards they need to improve their career prospects. Patients who cannot access primary care may develop chronic conditions which could have been prevented.
Our aspirations are higher than our immediate aims and objectives for healthcare. We believe that when the learners will be more confident and have better communication and negotiating skills, they will be able to use them in all aspects of their lives and also become positive change-agents for their families and wider networks.
In 2002, the Bengali Women's Project commissioned us to undertake the first evaluation of the specific needs and aspirations of young Bangladeshi women in Luton. We found impressive examples of enterprise, courage, dedication and energy among the young women. With multiple cultural identities, as Muslims, as Bangladeshis and as British citizens or residents, they tried to create a balance within their lives. As in other communities, they had their individual needs and aspirations, strengths and weaknesses. Nevertheless, confronting racism and sexism, and with little support from statutory or white-led voluntary service providers, several of them had already achieved considerable success in terms of education, their careers and their personal lives.
In 1995-1996, we arranged women's poetry evenings, supported by Bedfordshire County Council to develop local creativity. Women of all ages and ethnicities met in the Council Chamber in County Hall to read their poems and participate in alively evening of poetry and discussion.
The following year, we published Say it in verse, an anthology of their poems.