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Akhlak Rauf

Part Time PhD Student

Akhlak Rauf

Research title: Optimising the transition to coping with behavioural distress in people living with Dementia in South Asian families.

Supervisors: Professor Jan Oyebode and Dr Sahdia Parveen.

Hi my name is Akhlak Rauf, but to add to confusion regarding names – I am also known by my actual first name Mohammed – but either works ok with me.

I was born and brought up in Batley (West Yorkshire) where although racism was evident from time to time – I was oblivious to other inequalities as I grew up.  By the time I started my A levels I was well aware of the inequalities faced by various communities (both geographical and also communities of interest).  Having studied for an MSc in Race Relations & Community Studies with specific research on inequalities within the Labour Market – I think my mind was set that I would be working towards tackling these barriers which prevent a fair access to information, services and wider determinants of a fairer society.  Now living in Bradford, I have volunteer opportunities to help bring about some change and as such, I am the Chair of a Community Centre and the Chair of Governors of a Primary School.  I value these roles as they help me to challenge and change attitudes, perceptions and barriers preventing access to good quality education, aspirations and services.

Since 2000 I have been working for the Local Authority in Bradford on issues surrounding access to information and services for Black and Minority Ethnic communities regarding access to health and social care.  Since 2006 I have managed a niche service ‘Meri Yaadain’ meaning My Memories.  This team has attained national recognition (and a little international too if I may be allowed to blow our trumpet), for its work on ways of engaging, communicating with and supporting BME people with dementia and their families and carers.

My interest in Dementia is not simply due to my desire to tackle health and social care inequalities or my work within the local authority but a personal reflection on how my parents looked after my grandmother (over 18 years ago), where she clearly had dementia but no one labelled it for them. Not having a word for Dementia in South Asian languages meant my parents were prevented from accessing the right information and support for my grandmother – even though English was not a barrier for them. 

I hope to build upon my experiences and interest in looking at ways of engagement with BME communities and more specifically understanding the transitions relating to the distress amongst South Asian families where there is someone living with Dementia.  Many families within BME communities see Dementia as part of the natural ageing process or that there are spiritual forces at play which cause the individual to demonstrate the symptoms and behaviours associated with Dementia.  Added to this I hope to look at any generational differences in how the younger generation (more Westernised) see Dementia and the roles and responsibilities of family members as opposed to the traditional roles expected by the older South Asian generation(s) living in Britain.

I feel my professional relationship with the University (prior to this opportunity to study towards a PhD) will reflect the high regard in which the University of Bradford's Centre for Applied Dementia Studies is held. I therefore feel privileged to have this opportunity and look forward to working with existing and new students and researchers too.