Spotlight On… Birmingham Mind & Zahida Khan

Published on 18 August 2020

The Hall Green Communities team are always wanting to hear about the fantastic work happening on a local and city-wide level to support vulnerable people and those in need. For this edition of our ‘Spotlight On…’ we spoke to Zahida Khan, Community Development Worker from Birmingham Mind.

Zahida who leads on Supporting Families, works in a team of 7 Community Development Workers who support BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic), vulnerable and disconnected communities across Birmingham who are facing barriers to accessing mental health services. The team is currently made up of 7 different strands: Criminal Justice, Newly Arrived Communities, Women’s Health, African & Caribbean Communities, Men’s Health, and will soon be connecting with LGBTQ communities.

Zahida has been working for Birmingham Mind since 2002, initially starting out as a Support Worker providing recovery-based support to those living with mental health difficulties. Her current role as a Community Development Worker is a departure from her earlier work with the charity: “I tend to work less with service users and more with organisations and health care providers. My role is to help them work better with BAME communities who have historically struggled to access mental health care.” and other vulnerable communities.

Like many organisations Birmingham Mind also had to change their service delivery and their Helpline became their  primary service, offering telephone support to the citizens of Birmingham and Solihull during lockdown. Zahida has had to develop new ways of working to adapt to the pandemic, with Zahida herself shielding throughout lockdown: “my colleagues and I have been working from home, getting familiar to using Zoom and other technologies that help us stay engaged with communities across the city.” The pandemic has also demonstrated why the work of Zahida and her colleagues is so important, “I think that the disproportionate deaths that we have seen within BAME communities has highlighted that there is a lot of work that we need to do in terms of bridging health inequalities.”

Zahida has always had an interest in mental health from an early age and she is very passionate and enthusiastic about her work “I love what I do; I love talking to people, engaging with them and making a difference. It’s great to link people in with support and ensuring they get the help they need.”  Outside of her role with Birmingham Mind Zahida enjoys spending time with her two children,” we like to go for lots of walks and days out” she told us. Zahida is also a big fan of Netflix and like many of us has used the free time lockdown has given us to binge watch TV shows and films. She is also an avid reader and describers herself as “a sponge” when it comes to reading new books.  

In terms of what comes next for Zahida and her colleagues at Birmingham Mind they are very much focusing on what the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic may bring: “I think we haven’t seen the full impact that COVID-19 has had on adults and children and going forward there will be a lot of people struggling with their mental health. Because of this we will be raising a lot of awareness around mental heath and what support is available across the City.”

If you are in need of any support, signposting or information about Birmingham Mind, please contact their 24hr Helpline on 0121 262 3555 or email help@birminghammind.org

We would like to thank Zahida for spending time chatting with us. Would you like to be featured in our next Hall Green Communities Newsletter? Get in touch with Natalie Tichareva via Natalie.tichareva@accrodgroup.org.uk.