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Capital assets: mapping the needs and assets of African communities in Redbridge & Waltham Forest

Duration: September 1999 - November 2000

This was a community-led initiative in which over 1000 Africans resident in Redbridge and Waltham Forest were asked about their assets and health needs. The survey was instigated by Redbridge & Waltham Forest African Forum, and undertaken by community groups themselves in collaboration with Sigma Research.

The survey was designed both to gather information from the communities and to provide information to them. The information sought was not simply about the participants needs but also about the assets within those communities to address those needs. The project sought information about the relationship between Africans living in Redbridge or Waltham Forest, their assets, health needs and the potential for interventions. It did so by:

  • providing all stakeholders with clear and accessible information about the demography of the local African communities.
  • mapping the priorities and needs of the groups.
  • assessing knowledge about HIV and its prevention.
  • mapping linguistic assets and social structures of participating community groups that may contribute to meeting these needs.
  • identifying acceptable, culturally appropriate methods of intervention.

Questionnaire content was led by the members of the African Forum as was the structure and content of the report. Members of community groups did all the interviewing. Between them, 41 interviewers talked to 1008 residents. The majority of African women and men living locally were at an age when people can be at their most active physically, mentally and economically. Mental health and HIV and AIDS were the major health concerns although health concerns were associated with country of birth. Many respondents lacked basic knowledge of HIV transmission. There is a need for more awareness of clinical sexual health services. Language ability and social networks are common assets for health. English is spoken by 78% of participants and 88% of the entire sample mentioned at least one person they were close to.

The survey provides information that helps to identify key areas where community organisations and statutory services working in partnership can improve quality of life and access to services.

The final report was called Capital assets: a community research intervention by The African Forum in Redbridge and Waltham Forest.

Key contact: Ford Hickson