The May meeting of Transition Hull heard all about the local BAMEEN project from Dawda Jatta.
Dawda has a Masters Degree in Environmental Technology and returned to the Gambia to do research on the role of local and national NGOs in developing solar technologies.
Dawda currently lives and works in Hull, though has found it difficult to find a job in the environmental sector. He came up with the idea of a local environmental network which would look to involve black and minority ethnic groups, refugees and asylum seekers. Initially focusing on recycling and waste management, the project aimed to help people understand and engage with the local recycling bins system, to manage their waste effectively.
Hull has a diverse immigrant population, including people who have lived in larger towns but move to Hull as it is perceived as a nice place and has the Wilberforce heritage to recommend it. The waste management initiative had a positive reception, but in general environmental issues are low on people’s priority list – financial stability and improving their lives tend to be the focus when they arrive in this country.
BAMEEN has also been working in the broader area of understanding carbon literacy. For example educated BMEs in low paid jobs can be assisted to reduce their energy bills by finding the cheapest supplier and by reducing their energy consumption. In general this work helps people to find out how we can lessen our impact on the environment.
The opportunity to grow fruit and vegetables is available via two allotments which the project has access to, at Newland Ave and at Clough Rd. A recent BAMEEN gardening event held at Spring Bank Community Centre was well attended, but a number of people think ‘we haven’t come to this country to do gardening!’ – which reflects their priorities. Arguments for gardening include the fitness it can bring, via exercise (instead of the gym) and via fresh healthy produce, both of which can save you some money. Some vegetables grown back home can be grown here, and this provides an opportunity to share aspects of your culture.
The two current projects BAMEEN is busy with are
- Growing Diversity which promotes growing fresh fruit and vegetables in BME communities. This will not be easy but at least will be informed by an understanding of the sensitivities and priorities of people who have recently come to this country.
- Diabetes project, which has NHS funding, to explore current beliefs about the disease and its connection with diet. BME groups are 4 – 6% more likely to suffer diabetes. Muslim sufferers have to cope with fasting affecting diabetes management. The work done in this area will be predominantly face to face in the hope of a better level of engagement than leafleting produces.
Dawda acknowledged the initial advice he received from HANA (Hull All Nations Alliance) in setting up BAMEEN, the involvement of the Black History Partnership, and the help Hull City Council Waste Management had provided to the recycling aspect of the project.
BAMEEN’s website is at http://www.bameen.org.uk/