Online group based in Sunderland and South Tyneside provides 'relief' for Bangladeshi women in lockdown isolation

Video report by Julia Barthram


An online craft and chat group has helped women from the Bangladeshi community through the isolation of lockdown.

The community has been disproportionally affected by coronavirus in the UK, with those of Bangladeshi heritage dying at twice the rate of white British people.  

Sangini, a multicultural women's organisation based in Sunderland and South Tyneside, saw calls for help with isolation and depression increase by 40% during the pandemic.

Members of the charity launched the Knock Knock project, knocking on doors of women to invite them to join an online support group. Lessons in how to use the technology were given through windows and socially distanced outside houses.

100

women from across Newcastle, South Shields and Sunderland join the sessions

The group began with a weekly craft session but in answer to questions from group members, introduced a weekly Covid update. 

A weekly health session followed, with health professionals invited to give advice and answer questions. Artists also joined the sessions to teach the women new skills.  

We were able to talk about things that we wouldn't normally talk about, for example, their sense of identity, who they are, we talked about protest, resistance, we talked about feminism.  It's a space which is safe and free, where we are helping them to explore their world and learn from each other.

Padma Rao, Project Manager

Now, the sessions run every night.

Salma Akter is one of the participants.

Artwork created by the women during the sessions is due to go on display at Washington Art Gallery when it reopens in May.