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Work with women 2011-14

Rehana Begum


Hyde is one of several post-industrial towns which together form the Metropolitan Borough of Tameside, one of the 10 districts of Greater Manchester. It has traditionally been a solidly Labour-led borough, featuring a high level of local authority in-house provision and a largely undeveloped voluntary sector, consisting mainly of small unpaid community groups.

Tameside hosts a major concentration of people of Bangladeshi heritage, specifically in Hyde, as well as significant Pakistani, Indian, African and Eastern European communities. Bangladeshi women experience triple disadvantage arising from gender, ethnicity and locality. Demographic evidence[1] shows it at the foot of key equality league tables, with illness rates persistently 10% higher than those for White women and economic activity rates at only 40%, compared with around 80% for White women and 90% for both Bangladeshi and white males. “Non-proficiency in English” impacts very heavily on women, with employment rates dropping to only 34%. Our local neighbourhood ranks within the bottom thousand for multiple deprivation.

Cultural traditions mean that young women from rural Sylhet continue to arrive in this country to take part in arranged marriages. They usually speak little or no English, reluctant to travel outside their own areas and where language is the key underlying barrier.

Most local public services recognise their own difficulty in reaching the Bengali community. They have very few Bengali-speaking staff and have tended to welcome the opportunity to work with us.

With our approach of “growing your own leadership” we achieved high levels of engagement from Bengali women, as service users, volunteers and trustees of the charity. The work highlighted problems of social exclusion which extended well beyond traditional notions of health.  This led to a 3-year bid to Big Lottery Fund (Reaching Communities) for an ambitious programme aimed at Bengali women in Hyde.  

[1] Census 2011, IMD 2010, ESRC Centre on Dynamics of Ethnicity.

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Census 2011, IMD 2010, ESRC Centre on Dynamics of Ethnicity.

Social justice and equality, Anti-discrimination, Community empowerment, Collective Action, Working and Learning together.


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