Supporting young people from minority ethnic groups

"There are so many problems… the girl needs 24 hour help… We [the family] have to take it in turns to look after her."

Two major issues in supporting young people with learning disabilities from minority ethnic communities are the family carer’s awareness of their child’s mental health needs and their perception of the services available.

This research project focused on the needs of young people with learning disabilities from Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities in Bradford. It explored ways of improving access to services. The project included mapping of service use by families, and focus groups with service users and service providers to identify the barriers to accessing services and recommendations for future services.

During the project one group of families was allocated a liaison worker for nine months to help them get in touch with the services they requested, whereas another group carried on without this type of support, and a comparison of service take-up, behavioural issues of the young person, and carer stress was made.

The findings of this research indicated that young people from Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities and their families experience significant problems in accessing services. These arise from lack of knowledge and awareness about what support is available, language barriers, inability or reluctance to get help, and perceptions and beliefs about caring and the role of the family.

Families who had received help from the liaison worker had significantly more frequent contact with a wider range of services and with more positive outcomes than those who had not.