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REACH Community Health Project

REACH Healthy Living Project was founded in September 2000 in Glasgow by Shehla Ihsan and focused on health promotion to encourage better dietary and exercise habits within the Black & Minority Ethnic (ME) community.

In September 2001 REACH Healthy Living Project evolved into REACH Community Health Project due to:

  1. Identifying the need to meet the specific and diverse healthcare needs of the ME community living in Glasgow.
  2. Widening its focus on combining mainstream clinical experience with community engagement and development through partnership working with key stakeholders from across the health arena.

The purpose of this change ensured that a coherent strategy for ME health was based principally on needs-based service provision, evidence-based research and community development. Some initial achievements include:

  • The establishment of a culturally sensitive mini-gym
  • the provision of various ME-focused health and wellbeing clinics
  • the regular hosting of health awareness days, e.g. Diabetes Awareness Day event
  • the production of important community-based research including The Missing Link (2004), a study of ME Health barriers and needs in Glasgow
  • the development of REACH's Public Policy, Active Citizenship (PPAC) project, involving BME community members in health planning processes.

Going from strength to strength in the past few years REACH has now successfully established itself from a locally based organization to a national organization. Some of the examples to this end:

  • REACH was given recognition in 2006 for its innovative community based approach at a local level via funding from the Scottish Executive's Race Equality and Integration Community Support Fund (REICSF) to develop a comprehensive health package for Health Boards across Scotland.
  • In 2006 REACH, in partnership with BEMIS (Black and Ethnic Minorities Infastructure in Scotland), launched the National Project, an extensive study of health service provision and challenges with regards to ME communities in three different Scottish Health Boards
  • More recently in 2008, REACH was awarded Big Lottery funding for its ICHEE project, which aims over three years to engage ME communities in health structures within Tayside, Lothian and Lanarkshire Health Boards.