Barriers experienced by BAMER in accessing to services

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Whether through a lack of education or understanding of what rights are available to BAMER members, language and cultural barriers, or a feeling of isolation from the service providers, prejudice, racism and discrimination many members of social excluded communities do not access the rights, opportunities and support that is available to them.

Many BAMER communities in UK, especially women, older people, and disabled people - face multiple disadvantages in accessing services including poor English, communication difficulties, lack of skills and qualifications, lack of information and awareness of legal and other services available.

Other disadvantages include cultural and religious barriers in accessing services, being accepted by host communities, lack of cultural awareness and sensitivity among reception and frontline staff, insufficient engagement by the local authorities with minority ethnic residents and community organisations.

Language can be a huge barrier to BAMER victims accessing services due to lack of English skills to report sensitive and complex issues. A reduction of funding in teaching in English as a Second Language (ESOL) exacerbates the barrier to the labour market. Legal Aid – formally the lifeline for our client group - is decimated, no organisation provides free legal advice in our area, most advice providers have closed down.

Accessing the benefits system can be not only daunting for many. Many come to the attention of local services only when they reach a point of extreme need, such as being evicted or at risk of deportation, having lost their benefits, being burgled, or left isolated and vulnerable by the death of a carer or family members.

Disabled asylum seekers and migrants are concerned that asking for services to respond to their disability may have a negative impact on their asylum claim. Refugees, migrants and asylum seekers feel that their disability may be seen as a burden to host communities and to UK services that they already receive.

Existing research shows some universities, such as the London School of Economics and King's College have a high proportion of BAMER students, but elite universities such as Oxford and Cambridge have less than average representation. While it is known that BAMER students tend to study in cities and towns with large BAMER populations, it is unclear why some universities are favoured over others, or why more BAMER students are accepted in certain universities. (Race into Higher Education”, Race for Opportunity Campaign, Business in the Community, Feb 2010).

Many BAMER communities live in deprived areas and are far more likely to develop poor health and prematurely die from preventable diseases; Many experience inadequate access to health services such as registration with a GP, sexual and reproductive health, mental health, antenatal health due to poor English, lack of awareness, and cultural and religious attitudes. Overall, there are gaps in health service provision and lack of advocacy tailored to BAMER communities.

BAMER communities experience poor health lifestyle outcomes that lead for example to diabetes, stroke, cancer due to lack of services that provide advice and health promotion services about healthy diet, access to exercise and smoking cessation opportunities.

There is a lack of awareness amongst many BAMER communities about disability, what it is, what it means, and how individuals and families are affected. In some cultures, mental illness and depression are not discussed and recognised.

Where they mental health problems are treated by mainstream health services, their cause and context may not be familiar or understood by the professionals involved, for example mental health problems caused by FGM, isolation caused by family members left behind, failure of asylum claims, trauma caused by wars and killed relatives.

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