This year, Camden Mela was held on 17 October 2021 for the public after a gap of two years when the pandemic put off almost all the physical events.
Bloomsbury Festival, Camden Mela and the British Library jointly celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Independence of Bangladesh. Spotlight is on Bengali culture with music, dance, street food, talks.
When we received the proposal to participate at the mela, we jumped at the opportunity – our first face-to-face participation at a community event after almost two years. My colleague, Shelly and I represented Healthwatch Camden at the mela. We displayed our banner and information about us. We had our branded pens and beautiful cloth bags as giveaways to people coming to our stall.
We were super excited to leave the comforts of our home and go back into the community to meet people face-to-face and to hear their experiences. The mela allowed us to interact with residents from diverse backgrounds and helped us gather experiences of the health and social care services in Camden.
Many people came to us to share their suggestions on issues that the local NHS should be focusing on. Some of the suggestions were better dental service, better pay and working conditions to care workers, face-to-face access to GP services, support for parents with children with disabilities, more elderly support, diabetes awareness and increased funding to NHS.
“Government not funding NHS enough, trying to privatise it. Very worrying. Save our wonderful NHS.”
“Leave our NHS alone. Help them continue their fantastic work”
LONG COVID SURVEY
The Mela also allowed us to spread awareness about Long COVID research we are doing in association with other Healthwatchs in North Central London- Enfield, Barnet, Haringey and Islington. We realised that many people were not aware of the term Long COVID. They may have the symptoms, but they thought it was the continuation of their COVID symptoms.
There were a couple of Camden residents who shared their experiences of Long COVID with us and even filled the survey.
We were thrilled to meet the ex-counsellor of Camden and organiser of the Mela, Nasim Ali, partners from other voluntary sectors, and local media after so many months of meeting them over Zoom. We also relished some delicious Bangladeshi cuisine.
We both felt very pleased to meet residents and to talk about our role in Camden. We informed people about our recent works on NHS Dentistry, and ongoing projects on Cancer awareness and Long COVID. After suffering from Zoom fatigue, it was so good to go out and meet people in public spaces and to just listen to them. we do hope that we get many such opportunities in the near future as there is nothing better than meeting people in person.