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Muslim communities as a resource for health promotion

Dr Sufyan Dogra shares his experiences of developing the Childhood Obesity Trailblazer Programme in Bradford

In this video, Dr Sufyan Dogra (Principal Research Fellow at the Bradford Institute for Health Research) shares his experiences of developing the Childhood Obesity Trailblazer Programme (COTP) in Bradford.

This project was funded by the Department of Health and Social Care in the UK and managed by the Local Government Association. See the link below for further information on COTP.

Dr Dogra draws out recommendations from COTP around co-producing health promotion and intervention activities with Muslim communities. He suggests that those seeking to work with Muslim communities through mosques, should engage congregants as well as imams and go beyond mosque management committees. Dr Dogra found that Muslim communities included informed, well-educated, and enthusiastic people who could be engaged to promote better health, including mental health, in their social networks and communities.

Those who seek to work with mosques should be aware that the people working within these settings are often volunteers, often with other demands on their time. Sufyan recommends that those who seek to work with mosques should focus on building long-term collaborative relationships that are based on mutual trust and understanding, and that do not unduly burden volunteers from the mosque community.

CCGs commission most of the hospital and community NHS services in the local areas for which they are responsible. Commissioning involves deciding what services are needed for diverse local populations and ensuring that they are provided. In their recent report, the Lantern Initiative, a grassroots mental health charity for Muslims, make the following recommendations for CCGs around improving support for Muslim mental health:

  • CCGs should commission research which accesses the expertise already held within communities, this research needs to start addressing more complex mental health needs of the Muslim community
  • create funding schemes and mentorship programmes within the NHS that genuinely work together in co-creating training and service provision with Muslim experts in the field
  • create long term sustainable funding streams for community groups working in Muslim mental health; incorporate an autonomous model where individuals and grassroots organisations have a voice in the decision-making processes in relation to service design and delivery
  • consider alternative career entry routes, whilst maintaining standards, as an alternative to existing roles governed by established accreditation bodies which hold problematic structural and systemic alienation and racism concerns.

(The Lantern Initiative et al. 2021)


News article: Born in Bradford: Mosques and madrassas have huge potential to help prevent child obesity. Telegraph and Argus, 4th June 2021.

Childhood Obesity Trailblazer Programme.

For more information on Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) see the NHS website.

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Understanding Mental Health in Muslim Communities

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