MUSLIM COUNCIL OF BRITAIN−WRITTEN EVIDENCE (PSR0108)

In its explanatory notes, the House of Lords Select Committee on Public Services stated its desire to gather experiences of the Public Services during the Covid-19 crisis, particularly from those working in frontline services. The Committee also noted its intention “to take evidence from hard-to-reach groups and individuals with experience of accessing services during the Covid-19 outbreak.” 

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) is grateful to the Select Committee for its extension of the deadline for submissions to 27th July 2020. The scope is taken as covering publicly funded bodies, delivering a public or government service (central and local, and including public corporations under their control) but not as a ministerial department. 

Background

Muslims in Britain form the second largest faith community, numbering 2.7 million, or 5% of the population (2011 Census). The majority (76%) live in the inner-city conurbations of Greater London, West Midlands, North West and Yorkshire and the Humber. 

The MCB is a national umbrella body with over 500 mosques, educational, charitable associations and professional networks affiliated to it. It includes national, regional, local, and specialist Muslim organisations and institutions from different backgrounds within British Muslim civil society, reflecting its diversity of ethnicity, language, culture and schools of thought.

Introductory comments 

Britain’s faith institutions – that include about 1,200 mosques - have fulfilled a crucial role in safeguarding communities during this crisis and have emerged as an essential partner of public service delivery bodies at national and local level.

For example, UK Government called for the closure of all places of worship and imposed lockdown measures across the UK on 23 March 2020. However, the MCB had taken steps earlier, on 16 March, to strongly recommend to its network of affiliated mosques the temporary suspension of all congregational activities. This was widely taken up and has since been followed up by the MCB and its affiliate, the British Islamic Medical Association (BIMA), in numerous and on-going regional and national online briefings.  The faith sector can reach out to the population promptly and effectively because it is a trusted voice with established lines of communication and networks that have grown in an organic way over the decades.

Given the day-to-day evolving picture on what is known of Covid-19 and its societal impact, this submission should not be seen as offering any definitive answers to the questions posed by the Committee, but a snapshot of ‘voices from the grassroots’. Moreover, the MCB is still in the process of collating data on the various efforts of its affiliates in providing services of public benefit, either to complement the public services, or to step in where there have been shortcomings or shortfalls in delivery.

With these provisos, this submission provides responses to a subset of the questions posed by the Select Committee from:

  1. Carers and Care organisations
  2. Professionals in public health, and primary and secondary care services
  3. Policy Analyst in the MCB
  4. Voluntary Sector Muslim civil society organisations – ten case studies of public benefit work

Some of the responses obtained overlap in content, offering different perspectives. Concluding observations and reflections are provided at the end.

 

              I.               Carers and Care organisations 

What have been the main areas of public service success and failure during the Covid-19 outbreak? [HoL Committee Q. 1]

How have public attitudes to public services changed as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak? [HoL Committee Q. 1]

Source

Response

Unpaid carer

In May 2020, my local Council phoned me to ask me how I was coping with providing care. This was a good step and helped my morale. I was asked whether I needed face masks. A delivery was promised. It is now two months, and this has not come.

Housing consultant & board member of housing associations with care home services

What is clear is that community based organisations like some of the ones I work, represent and am engaged with (Manningham Housing Association, Unity Home & Enterprise, The Popda Society, Mount Cricket Club), are vital to ensure that there is two way communication as we have earned the trust of the communities and reassure them at a time of national crisis and therefore an essential partner to government and its agencies.  The government has just adopted to date a one size fit approach which is not having the right impact amongst certain BAME communities.

Perhaps the biggest contribution we can make is speak up and communicate on behalf of our communities and raise the concerns and deficits in provision, PPE etc [that occurred in May 2020]. This is where we need to pull our effort to get the message back to government and its various agencies and partners.

Given the number of cases of Covid-19 and fatalities in the social care and independent living sector for older people, I am concerned that after all this is over or at least under control, that the perception and reaction from the BAME communities towards older person specific accommodation with care and support and provision might be viewed negatively given the high number of Covid-19 related deaths, yet it’s essential given the MCB research to reduce loneliness, isolation and economic hardship, that these perceptions are corrected.

GP with special interest in elderly and palliative care and chair of community-led organisation

Excess burden of illness in the Muslim community and restrictions on hospital visitation policies resulted in ill patients not wanting to go into hospital. They wanted to be cared for at home. This placed increased pressure on family members. There is stigma around care homes in the Muslim community, and this has not been helped by data which shows that despite making up 3% of the population of care homes, BAME care home residents made up approximately half of all care home deaths

             

II.               Professionals in public health, and primary and secondary care services

From a Public Health delivery perspective

 

Response

 

What have been the main areas of public service success and failure during the Covid-19 outbreak?

[HoL Committee Q. 1]

Did resource problems or capacity issues limit the ability of public services to respond to the crisis? Are there lessons to be learnt from the pandemic on how resources can be better allocated and public service resilience improved?

[HoL Committee Q. 3]

 

Successes:

London was the epicentre of early stages of the pandemic in the UK. Excess deaths and provision of allied services was well co-ordinated (Logistics Cell) which involved participation of multidisciplinary stakeholder groups that included coronial services, Metropolitan Police, funeral directors, cemetery operators, community and faith representatives. The multidisciplinary stakeholder group worked collaboratively to address issues such as storage, transport, PPE, infection control, real time sharing of resources and experience. The National Burial Council played a significant role in representing the Muslim community.

 

Failures:

Confusion about testing: An emergency national Public Health Laboratory Service, created in 1940 as a response to threat of bacteriological warfare, was converted to a Public Health Laboratory Service (PHLS) by an Act of Parliament 1946.  The 50+ laboratories that were co-located and integrated with local NHS hospitals across the country provided a public health focus, well placed to participate in local and national public health response. Since the replacement of the PHLS by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) in 2003 and later by the PHE (2013), this important public health response capacity has been lost. The PHLS existed to provide the essential service to respond to outbreaks like Covic-19.  It is hoped the Select Committee will consider recommending the reintroduction of dedicated public health microbiological services at local/regional level.

 

Pandemic preparedness: Following experience with the H1N1 influenza pandemic of 2009, UK developed its Influenza Pandemic Preparedness strategy (2011), the PHE Pandemic Influenza Strategic Framework (2014) was established.

There is a need to assess to whether the strategy was implemented appropriately or was it not fit for purpose. Is an “Implementation Strategy” needed?

 

Infection control advice: Making people follow advice requires behavioural changes. Its dissemination and effective implementation require clear, precise and authoritative public messaging. Unfortunately, this has not been the case in the two important areas: wearing of masks and testing for the virus. There has been an appreciable dent in confidence.

 

Messaging: This could have been better and better directed for the communities (socially, culturally). Messages were often confusing – civil society devised innovative methods – need to acknowledge their role and work more closely with them, co-production, cobranding approaches

 

Lockdown: No strategy/criteria for easing lockdown.

 

Access to services: Accessing non-Covid related health services was difficult – need to assess to what extent this contributed to spread of infection in the community (e.g. care homes/carers; increase in pool of vulnerable in lockdown situation).  It was difficult for some to get through the over-stretched 111 NHS line.

There was confusion about who to contact- GP, 111 or 999. There have been delays with patients seeking advice on cancer and cardiovascular conditions/symptoms with a 50% reduction in presentation for heart attacks reported by some Trusts. Diabetes control and obesity levels have worsened; there were no proactive preventative programmes implemented to mitigate the impact on non-communicable disease

 

 

Have public services been effective in identifying and meeting the needs of vulnerable groups during the Covid-19 outbreak? For example, were services able to identify vulnerable children during lockdown to ensure that they were attending school or receiving support from statutory services? How have adults with complex needs been supported?

 

[HoL Committee Q9]

 

Vulnerable children: I think these were well covered – I am aware that for certain groups of children (e.g. special need), appropriate arrangements were made, and appropriate advice/support given.

Adults with complex needs: Either did not receive appropriate support or they were not fully aware of where to seek such support or what was available.   Disability: Almost two thirds of people who have died because of Covid-19 had a disability.

 

 

Were groups with protected characteristics (for example BAME groups and the Gypsy, Roma and

Traveller community), or people living in areas of deprivation, less able to access the services that they needed during lockdown?

Have inequalities worsened as a result of the lockdown? If so, what new pressures will this place on public services?

 

[HoL Committee Q. 10]

 

People living in areas of high deprivation (with high level of comorbidities) have suffered most.

The pandemic has highlighted the effect of failure to respond to (or address) recommendations in successive reports/commissions on health inequalities - the most recent and authoritative one – Marmot Review 2010 - highlighted that inequalities are preventable: need to address social determinants of ill health (housing, employment, living conditions and the environment in which a child is born determines his/her life expectancy.  Marmot considers life expectancy at birth as a barometer or scale of health inequalities. Sadly, Marmot Review ten year on (Feb 2020) reported no changes over the decade. In fact, conditions had worsened in some areas.

The selectively worse outcome in BAME and/or faith communities (well demonstrated by PHE’s disparities review) was predictable and preventable if Marmot principles had been implemented.  There is now urgent need set up systems to address health inequalities and associated social determinants

There is no data on disaggregated ethnicity or faith on vulnerable groups. Race and religion are protected characteristics. This data must be available across the clinical journey: at testing and surveillance, primary and secondary access and death certification. This is essential to monitor barriers to access and unequal outcomes.

The pandemic has exposed disproportionate rates of transmission and fatalities among certain ethnic groups. The growing levels of disparity that BAME communities face – particularly as we confront an unprecedented economic downturn – have fuelled simmering tensions over racial injustice in the UK

 

 

Are there lessons to be learnt for reducing inequalities from the new approaches adopted by services during the Covid-19 outbreak?

 

[HoL Committee Q 11]

 

Yes, this applies at all levels both for healthcare and social care sectors, and also the housing sector.    Need to look at this as a systematic failure by policy makers as well as local providers.

Need to develop (cultural and faith sensitive services) pertinent/fit for purpose to the geographical area of their responsibility.

This is what local governments are for.   Emphasis on local government – their role and accountability, education and training of local representatives.

Better and effective use of community engagement.

Develop effective, meaningful partnerships.

Voluntary community and faith-based organisations have shown their potential and appetite to contribute.   This should be harnessed. They need to be provided with appropriate funding to undertake such work.   For housing there is an opportunity for change. This is long overdue as the system continues to perpetuate disparities and inequality in housing provision and access to BAME communities who are: 

          over-represented in insecure private rented sector accommodation 

          more likely to be overcrowded and experience poor housing conditions impacting health

          three times more likely to be over-represented in the most deprived local authority areas 

          three times more likely than white households to experience homelessness

          twice more likely to be unemployed

 

 

 

What does the experience of public services during the outbreak tell us about services’ ability to collaborate to provide “person-centred care”?

 

 

Little is known about a good patient-centred NHS project the Rapid Response Service (Hillingdon) that we had experience of during the lockdown period.  This involved home visits by trained multiskilled senior healthcare professionals and follow up providing an excellent person-centred service. 

Extension of such an approach is highly recommended.

Faith and culturally-aware care key components of patient-centred care; there is little guidance and training for health and social care professionals on adequate cultural and faith competency.

Community based medical groups issued guidance to healthcare professionals e.g. fasting for staff and patients during Ramadan and end of life issues. Restriction on hospital visitation policies during Covid19 is an example where person-centred care was not taken into consideration and created a barrier for patients accessing care. Chaplaincy services in hospitals were also restricted. This created psychological distress for patients and relatives. There should have been better planning around these issues through consultation with community-based faith and medical groups.

HoL Committee Q. 15]

[Ho

Can you provide any examples of how public services worked effectively with a local community to meet the unique needs of the people in the area (i.e. taking a “place-based approach” to delivering services) during the Covid19 outbreak?

 

Civil society and faith-based organisations took a leading role in addressing faith and culturally sensitive aspects and offering support to the bereaved. 

e.g. MCB and National Burial Council work within the communities – can provide link to the guidance etc. 

L Committee Q. 18]

 

Would local communities benefit from public services focusing on prevention, as opposed to prioritising harm mitigation? Were some local areas able to reduce harm during coronavirus by having prevention focused public health strategies in place, for example on obesity, substance abuse or mental health?

 

Yes, there needs to be a completely different approach to hospital care and to social and preventive care.  

The essential role of local governments working in meaningful collaboration with local communities must be recognised and the necessary resources should be made available. The inequalities can be addressed only by differential arrangements to suit the local needs.  

Local governments must be empowered, and a robust monitoring system should be established to ensure implementation.

HoL Committee Q. 19]

 

Better integrated into local systems going forward?

 

HoL Committee Q. 20

 

There is a wealth of talent and professional experience in the community willing to do their bit.  

Many, if not all, of the recently retired are happy to do their bit for the society. May be a call for national service to contribute in the area of their expertise.  Governments should listen and benefit from their experience.  They are better placed to reflect on their in-service experience and advice Community engagement should be at the heart of any development programme.

The enthusiasm of community organisations and community leaders and ‘community champions’ should be is an asset waiting to be tapped. Most of these groups work on voluntary or charity basis – given appropriate training and capacity building they provide an invaluable resource that can help/fast track integration of local systems/services.

Voluntary sector faith based medical organisations issued numerous guidance and toolkits and educational webinars on supporting local communities. Public services must work with these organisations and provide adequate funding and resources. Most of the time when community organisations are consulted, this is on a pro bono basis, with larger public/third sector organisations absorbing all the funds. These unethical and unequitable arrangements under the guise of collaboration must be eliminated

 

 

From a primary and secondary health care perspective – (i) MCB affiliate, the British Islamic Medical Association (BIMA); the

Muslim Doctors Association (MDA)

Response

 

Successes:

          Building of emergency hospitals at pace.

          Rapid integration of technology in healthcare services to allow remote care.

          Development of Escalator Care Centres and then rapid translation of these into centres for Visiting and Triage (West London GP Federation).

          Prompted Muslim doctors to publish an extensive evidence-based guidelines for Muslim patients fasting in Ramadan.

Failures:

          Poor communication and mixed messages from authorities that have often caused confusion.

          Poor and ambiguous guidance/policy, often not applicable to all communities.

          Poor cross-border communication with devolved nations.

 

What have been the main areas of public service success and failure during the Cov

Covid-19 outbreak?

 

HoL Committee Q.1

 

 

 

          Reliance on voluntary organisations to clarify guidance for communities, without funding or resources.

          A very reactive approach by authorities.

          Lack of protective measures for frontline staff/and care homes.

          Lack of prudent investigation into factors causing high BAME deaths, and subsequent lack of urgent action to redress these disparities.

          Expired and poor-quality PPE supplied to front line staff. Lack of appropriate PPE for staff with beards. Substandard level of PPE in guidance in comparison to other developed countries.

          Over-reliance on command and control approach and not listening to local communities or regional nuances. Not targeting public health messaging to communities known to be hard to reach and known to have health inequalities from lack of access to primary care, emergency services, or uptake of conventional health messages.

 

          Failure to incorporate real time evidencebased data on morbidity (inpatient/ICU) in addition to mortality, and to sub stratify this by ethnic and faith group.

          Failure to provide an appropriate risk assessment tool to frontline workers and to adequately respond to PPE concerns by BAME staff on the frontline.

          No additional support provided to vulnerable child or adult services and many services provided by faith organisations stopped due to closure. Vulnerable groups often socially isolated unless family or voluntary services were able to provide support.

 

Have public services been effective in identifying and meeting the needs of vulnerable groups during the Covid-19 outbreak? For example, were services able to identify vulnerable children during lockdown to ensure that they were attending school or receiving support from statutory services? How have adults with complex needs been supported?

 

HoL Committee Q.9]

 

 

Yes, and these have also been the groups significantly impacted disproportionately.

          There is a lack of data on faith and its intersectionality with ethnicity. Therefore, inequalities amongst faith groups cannot be accurately assessed. Faith data needs to be collected across public health, primary care and secondary care services, social care, and on death certificates.

          Lack of funding and support for faith based mental health services.

 

Were groups with protected characteristics (for example BAME groups and the Gypsy, Roma and

Traveller community), or people living in areas of deprivation, less able to access the services that they needed during lockdown? Have inequalities worsened as a result of the lockdown? If so, what new pressures will this place on public services?

 

 

 

Inequalities have been exacerbated: additional pressures on healthcare services across the board, GPs to secondary care; additional pressure on public services in terms of unemployment, welfare, food services etc; increased evictions etc meaning pressure on legal services and housing/council services.

[MCB note: religion is also a protected characteristic]

 

[HoL Committee Q. 10]

 

Added pressure on the education system.

 

Pressure on the transport service to have them secure enough to be utilised.

 

Faith communities not called upon to participate in prevention, communication or support, despite evidence that places of worship and faith leaders can be important allies. Main Muslim groups were marginalised from conversations.

 

Muslim communities took it on themselves to proactively protect their congregations by calling for a lockdown on religious facilities one week ahead of the government, and for caution during recovery phase.

 

A one size fits all approach does not work. There is a need for better targeted approaches to assist those most vulnerable. Need greater integration/cooperation across services.

Not enough to just invest without understanding significant structural barriers/issues.

 

Are there lessons to be learnt for reducing inequalities from the new approaches adopted by services during the Covid-19 outbreak?

 

HoL Committee Q. 11]

 

Forward planning by mosques helped ensure timely disposal of bodies in a safe manner.

Areas where communities had good relationships with directors of public health, councils, MPs, police, and CCGs were able to respond better

 

Were some local areas, where services were well integrated before the crisis, better able to respond to the outbreak than areas where integration was less developed? Can you provide examples?

HoL Committee Q. 13]

 

When infrastructure and support is in place the collaboration and integration of services is both effective and efficient.

There needs to be further emphasis and funding for integrated care.

 

What does the experience of public services during the outbreak tell us about services’ ability to collaborate to provide “person-centred care”?

HoL Committee Q. 15]

 

Initiative led by [name withheld] to use a M] mosque in Bolton (Masjid-e-Ghosia) to care for palliative care patients.

Mosques situated near hospitals provided and delivered food for hospital staff during Ramadan.

 

Can you provide any examples of how public services worked effectively with a local community to meet the unique needs of the people in the area (i.e. taking a “place-based approach” to delivering services) during the Covid-19 outbreak?

HoL Committee Q. 18]

 

Yes, it would have made public services better placed to deal with the outbreak, mitigate its fallout and be more responsive in terms of next steps and solutions.

Not aware of any areas that had more prevention-focused public health strategies, if anything it was the opposite.

There is a need to consider broader measures of health in relation to fitness i.e. BMI is not as reliable in South Asian populations and may require other markers to augment this. Consider screening for hypertension, diabetes and dyslipidaemia in younger BAME patients.

 

Would local communities benefit from public services focusing on prevention, as opposed to prioritising harm mitigation? Were some local areas able to reduce harm during coronavirus by having prevention-focused public health strategies in place, for example on obesity, substance abuse or mental health?

 

HoL Committee Q. 19]

 

The question of death certification is critical – for Muslims this needs to be as rapid as possible after death to ensure that burial can take place; but the precise cause of death, and, in particular, in a Covid-19 situation whether or not the virus itself is identified and implicated, is also of importance for protecting the health of the community, as well as underpinning the ONS data.

 

Review/lessons learned into how they were effective on the ground – how this is factored into their inclusion going forward. How they organised quickly and mobilised in order to deliver local services – support to vulnerable/sick/elderly.

Public services grants to provide services thereby removing burdens local government.

 

What lessons might be learnt about the role of charities, volunteers and the community sector from the crisis? Can you provide examples of public services collaborating in new ways with the voluntary sector during lockdown? How could the sectors be better integrated into local systems going forward?

 

[HoL Committee Q. 20]

 

 

III. Policy Analyst in the MCB

 

What have been the main areas of public service success and failure during the Covid-19

 

[HoL Committee Q. 1]

How effectively have different public services shared data during the outbreak? [HoL Committee Q. 7]

 

Source

Response

Statistician

MCB would like to commend the Office of National Statistics (ONS) for its regular weekly provision of Covid-19 death data for England and Wales by age and by sex with number of deaths being given down to Lower Tier Local Authority (LTLA) level. This has enabled calculation of age and gender standardised Covid-19 mortality rates useful for comparing effect of Coronavirus on different areas

Unlike Public Health England (PHE) and National Health Service England (NHSE), Covid-19 related data produced by ONS was complete and more reliable. (For PHE almost 5% of cases could not be allocated to the right LTLA as the post code was missing or incorrect, while for NHSE over 10% of Covid-19 death data had ethnicity not recorded or not stated.)

ONS should also be commended for making available to the public results of its study of correlation between Covid-19 deaths and known or suspected Covid-19 comorbidities, and for their initiative to bring the publication of UK mid-year population estimates for 2019-2020 forward so as to enable Covid-19 analysis to be based on the most current data.

However, MCB is concerned that in order to determine the ethnicity and religion of someone dying of Covid-19, ONS had to trace back individuals to their Census data, if available. On inquiring, ONS replied that this was done for the public good. If this practice is allowed to be used by other public bodies like police, immigration, DHSS etc. and the public becomes aware of it, it may lead to people not providing correct data in the 2021 Census.

To avoid similar data deficiencies in the future, MCB would like to recommend the inclusion of ethnicity and faith in both the birth and the death certificates. This will also help in the production of more accurate life expectancy and mortality rate by ethnic group.

 

              IV. Voluntary Sector Muslim civil society organisations –case studies of public benefit work

Q.18 Can you provide any examples of how public services worked effectively with a local community to meet the unique needs of the people in the area (i.e. taking a “place-based approach” to delivering services) during the Covid-19 outbreak?

Note: individuals’ names and personal details have been withheld for privacy considerations. 

1) Muslim Council of Britain’s collaboration with British Islamic Medical Association (BIMA)

BIMA has been collaborating with and supporting the MCB in facilitating 18 webinars and training sessions which saw over 10,000 participants and reached hundreds of mosques nationwide since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. BIMA also supported the MCB in adapting Covid-19 guidance by the UK, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish Governments to cater to Muslim communities in the respective nations, producing guidance in English and a number of community languages and broadcasting them widely. These resources seek to address various needs of communities ranging from queries concerning medical issues, burial rites and financial difficulties, to guidance on mental health issues and guidance on celebrating Ramadan and Eid during lockdown.

2) Muslim Doctors Association (MDA)

60% of reported medical deaths have been among Muslim doctors, despite making up 10% of the medical workforce. Concerns raised around bullying, harassment and discrimination and inadequate access to culturally sensitive PPE have contributed to this risk. MDA has been working with NHS bodies to address these issues and provide support spaces for frontline staff to discuss concerns. It is clear that frontline staff were discriminated and inadequately supported, resulting in avoidable loss of life. MDA has also created an online memorial gallery to commemorate the contributions of Muslim doctors who lost their lives on the frontline.

MDA has published an online Covid-19 social prescribing hub with information on organisations and services and published toolkits for Muslim communities on reducing risk from Covid-19 and mental health support for both the community and frontline staff. In response to growing concerns from Muslim communities about end of life care issues during Covid-19, the Muslim Doctors Association held a joint public webinar with the British Board of Scholars and Imams watched by 3,000 participants to give information and respond to questions on religious, ethical and medical perspectives around end of life care. 

3) Home Oxygen Monitoring Service (HOMS) in Harrow

Home Oxygen Monitoring Service (HOMS) is a joint initiative from four Islamic Centres in Harrow, north London, providing free oxygen monitoring devices on a loan basis for those with Covid-19 symptoms and those at-risk[1]. The Islamic Centres involved are Hujjat Stanmore, Harrow Central Mosque, Sri Lankan Muslim Cultural Centre and Shia Ithna’asheri Community of Middlesex[2]. These devices, the Digi Pulse Oximeters, offer convenience for those at-risk who need to monitor their oxygen levels from the comforts of their home in order to manage their illness better. According to [name withheld] from Hujjat Stanmore, this may help to prevent situations where patients end up at the hospital too late with very low oxygen levels and also for some infected cases who may look well but are showing ‘silent’ levels of low oxygen[3].  Thus, this device offers an early and timely intervention to prevent one’s deterioration of health undetected. This service is solely a delivery scheme; therefore patients would need to show the oxygen saturation and heart rate readings from the device to their respective medical professional or GP who will then decide on the best treatment option for them[4]

4) NHS PPE Campaign by Loft25 and Green Lane Masjid & Community Centre

In partnership with a volunteer-led project, Loft 25, Green Lane Masjid & Community Centre contributed in the production of PPE for the NHS. Loft 25 is a soft furnishings manufacturer owned by [name withheld] in Birmingham. The campaign was initially set up by [named withheld] and [details withheld] son, shortly after lockdown was announced when there was a critical demand for PPE[5]. Green Lane Masjid subsequently came on board to offer support to this campaign by increasing the number of volunteers, providing a lead project manager, project coordinators, admin, quality assurance checkers and over 150 delivery drivers. To date, they have donated about 10,000 PPE garments to the NHS, including various hospitals, hospices and GP practices[6].

5) Nightingale Masjid in Bolton

Masjid-e-Ghosia in Deane, Bolton, anticipated that there would be high demand for beds and space during this pandemic and planned to repurpose their mosque to offer space for beds such that it would relief the burden of hospitals for Covid-19 patients. This plan was proposed by [name withheld], together with three others. [name withheld] planned to have up to 55 beds which can be utilised as hospital overflow or for those who are concerned about giving the best care in their own homes. He also would like to offer a space to delivery end-of-life care patients[7]. There were overall 50 – 60 volunteers which include doctors, nurses and pharmacists coming forward to contribute to this repurposed space.

6) UKIM Masjid Ibrahim iCare Food Bank

The food bank has been set up since April consisting of distributing essential groceries as well as providing evening home cooked meals daily[8]. It has since provided 500 free hot meals on a daily basis to homeless residents and those in need in in the London Borough of Newham[9]. This was especially impactful during the month of Ramadan which can be trying times for those who may be struggling and would usually be attending the mosque for dinner on a daily basis. 

7) Eden Care

Eden Care UK is a BAME-led service by people who have lost loved ones through terminal illness.[10] During the Covid-19 crisis it has provided advice and information to help the public better understand Government messages and to avoid hearsay. It has also provided Covid-19 burial support and PPE equipment.

8) Setting up of temporary mortuaries

The UK Government made an initial request for the possibility of cremation of the deceased regardless of faith, but subsequently agreed to amend the Coronavirus Bill and remove this requirement on 23 March[11]. Nevertheless, there needs to be an urgent solution to address the surge of deaths in BAME and Muslim communities. In order to cope with the number of deaths from Covid-19, at least 10 mosques have been repurposed to use as temporary mortuaries[12]. One of the notable mosques which contributed to this is Green Lane Mosque in the West Midlands. [name withheld] one of the lead volunteers of the mosque, shared that they saw about 20 – 25 funerals a week which usually would be the average for a year. The mosque also used a 40ft refrigerated container to store extra bodies to accommodate the deceased. According to [name withheld], head of the mosque, protective measures and health policies were put in place which included getting direct contact from families of the deceased to arrange burial services and an agreement made for Imams not to wash the deceased for their safety[13]

The East London Mosque, with the generous support of the Muslim community, raised funds to create a temporary mortuary in Tower Hamlets. The Mosque, one of London’s main places of worship also offering a wide range of community services, is located near the Royal London Hospital. It was able to respond to the need for additional mortuary services by adapting space within railway arches. [14]

9) Federation of Muslim Organisations (FMO), Leicester

FMO, together with the Leicester Council of Faiths, has been working alongside the statutory services across Leicestershire to try and meet the needs and concerns of Leicester's diverse population[15]. This includes regular faith and voluntary sector forums to share relevant information in relation to Covid19 and working collectively to resolve issues. Examples of this are changes in the way deaths are reported to the coroner, support with advice around death and burial, support around managing places of worship, producing information in various languages and the provision of funding to support faith and Community groups. The FMO affiliate, the Muslim Burial Council of Leicester, has worked with partner agencies including the Bereavement Department of the Leicester City Council, Registration Services, Coroners, NHS Hospitals, Police, the Reliance Forum, Leicester Council of Faiths, and the National Burial Council. 

10) Councillors’ briefings

The MCB’s Research & Documentation Committee has organised online briefings for councillors in East London boroughs (Newham, Tower Hamlets, Redbridge, Barking & Dagenham) with high Muslim populations in the April-June 2020 period to provide an opportunity for peer information sharing in dealing with Covid-19, with a Q&A session with a public health expert. The councillors commended the MCB’s leadership in providing guidance to communities during this crisis and appealed for more collaboration to address long-standing issues like structural inequality, deprivation, unemployment, and health inequality that characterises the lives of BAME communities in the UK which aided a disproportionate loss of lives in BAME communities.

 

Concluding observations and reflections

Issues highlighted in this Submission include:

 


[1] https://hujjat.org/health/

[2] https://twitter.com/HarrowMosque/status/1247667130054643713

[3] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gICUkkYnIc8

[4] https://hujjat.org/health/

[5] http://ppe.loft25.co.uk/

[6] https://twitter.com/BeaconMosque/status/1260871974613659648/photo/1

[7] https://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/18346402.mosque-help-make-space-hospitals-coronavirus/

[8] https://twitter.com/MasjidIbrahimUK/status/1266121051060068352

[9] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oNkjdfe2Je8&feature=youtu.be

[10] https://edencareuk.com/

[11] https://mcb.org.uk/press-releases/mcb-thanks-government-for-its-changes-on-burial-measures-in-Covid-19-emergencylegislation/

[12] https://news.sky.com/story/coronavirus-mosques-set-up-temporary-mortuaries-to-cope-with-surge-in-Covid-19-deaths11982502

[13] https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/04/uk-muslims-stepping-coronavirus-crisis-200413122704311.html

[14] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/04/were-ready-if-we-are-needed-east-london-mosque-opens-Covid19-morgue

[15] https://www.leicester.gov.uk/your-council/coronavirus/religion-faith-or-belief/