The Wai Yin Chinese Women Society is the largest Chinese community centre in Britain, providing community services for the Chinese population in Manchester.
Mark and Louise described all the work they do and showed me around their Sheung Lok Centre where they provide activities including a Lunch Club for older people and Tai Chi sessions. The organisation works very closely with other BME women’s organisations in the city.
Louise described how mental health issues are perceived within the Chinese Community. There is a lot of stigma and discrimination, so that people do not like their friends, family and neighbours to know they are experiencing problems.
Wai Yin have developed projects including the Kwan Wai project which offers some one to one support for people experiencing distress. Louise has worked for many years to build awareness and create trust, so that she is now trusted and people feel able to open up to her and share their stories. They have produced a booklet with words from people who have used their services. Some of the authors felt confident enough to do this without anonymity, which is a huge step. They also produced a DVD for their tenth anniversary.
We had a long discussion on using the media to reach out to communities who may not feel able to access a service. They described how one way to do this may be to link up with other people in Hong Kong and others who were not from within their immediate community.