Diabetes UK and the British Muslim Heritage Centre working together to tackle health inequalities in Greater Manchester

“The project has not only provided an opportunity to increase my awareness and knowledge on tackling diabetes but also for me to take part into the establishment of the Greater Manchester Imams Network” – Imam Shafiq Siddiq.

Diabetes UK actively work to improve care and create better access to community support for people affected by diabetes and for those at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Their work is particularly focussed on reaching people in diverse communities, where the voices of those living with diabetes or at risk of type 2 diabetes are often unheard.

The British Muslim Heritage Centre (BMHC) is at the forefront of supporting the Muslim community across Greater Manchester and beyond. Both Diabetes UK and the BMHC were working to raise awareness of diabetes in lesser heard communities across the region and in 2019, they came together to see how they could collaborate to better support these communities.

From their initial discussions the Diabetes Inclusion Network (DIN) was established. The Diabetes UK North of England team were involved in this work from its inception. As well as supporting the network, they delivered webinars to engage with key community leaders, providing resources such as the ‘Know Your Risk’ sessions at Jummah (Friday prayers) to help raise awareness of the risks of type 2 diabetes and also delivered community champions training sessions for men and women. These were held separately to ensure they were culturally sensitive.

In September 2020, the Greater Manchester Strategic Clinical Network was able to offer funding via NHS England and NHS Improvement for two project coordinators, for twelve months, to further support with community engagement.

Previous insight work with black and south Asian communities highlighted the influence of religious leaders in engaging with Muslim and other minority ethnic faith-led groups. The British Muslim Heritage Centre worked in partnership with NHS England and NHS Improvement, the Strategic Clinical Network, Diabetes UK and Salford University, to deliver a project that reached out to Muslims through community influencers such as prominent women managers, Imams and cultural community centre managers.

The objectives and outcomes of the project included:

  • Undertaking a mapping exercise of Muslim groups, Mosques and organisations within Greater Manchester (GM). A GM Muslim Organisations Directory was produced with the name and contacts of groups including mosques and their roles in the ten Greater Manchester boroughs.
  • Developing a training pack that the Muslim community could relate to, based on the teaching of the Qu’ran and practical actions of the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH). A core group was established with some of the women influencers and Imams and Diabetes UK to seek their advice on what should be included in the pack and best way the training could be delivered.
  • ‘Training the trainers’ sessions were organised for women and for mixed groups. A total of 49 people (25 women and 24 men) were trained as trainers.
  • Establishing a Greater Manchester Imam’s Network to help us to deliver the key diabetes prevention messages. A khutbah narrative was included in the training pack for the Imams.
  • Supporting the trainers to cascade the training across the ten boroughs, linking to the local communities that can support them, including providing peer to peer support. Training is carried out in Bengali and Urdu, targeting those who may find it difficult to communicate in English.
  • Promoting key messages to the Muslim community – including through social media and local community radio.

This project is the first of its kind in Greater Manchester. The work has helped to ensure that people from across the area have access to accurate, culturally sensitive and relevant information at a local level, with signposting to healthcare services as appropriate.

Yvonne Browne, North West Improving Care Manager at Diabetes UK said: “This has been an incredibly valuable piece of work, supporting people from across local communities to have a better awareness of diabetes, the risks of developing type 2 diabetes and importantly, how we can reduce those risks. It demonstrates how vital it is to work closely with the communities we are trying reach”.

The future of the project

In 2022 the BMHC, Diabetes UK and the GM Clinical Network plan to build on the existing programme and bring together individual projects under one umbrella, whilst seeking to expand the portfolio looking at health inequalities – particularly stroke prevention.

The main aim of the programme will be to support Muslim communities across Greater Manchester, alongside other faith groups such as the Sikh and Jewish communities, in tackling health inequalities through meaningful and appropriate information, training and guidance.

The approach will be two-way and will provide an opportunity to learn and better understand the issues that lead to health inequalities, so solutions can be co-produced with local residents to maximise impact.

The project will be delivered through a partnership with the Greater Manchester Strategic Clinical Network, the Greater Manchester Neurorehabilitation & Integrated Stoke Delivery Network, the Stroke Association and Diabetes UK. Other key stakeholders will include influencers and organisations from across Greater Manchester.

For more information about the project, please contact deborah.drinkall@diabetes.org.uk.