ACOV have been great supporters for community projects

Here are a number of projects we are proud to have been a part of...

BME Project

BME Folder

This Action Plan covers the period 2006 to 2007 and sets out All Cultures One Voice (ACOV) continuing commitment to partnership working with community and voluntary groups, individuals and key statutory agencies such as Wolverhampton Homes and Keynote Housing Group in delivering more effective services to the people of Wolverhampton. A central plank of that commitment is the study that ACOV has commissioned with the support of a Tenant Empowerment Grant from the Office for the Deputy Prime Minister to investigate ways in which all members of the communities of the city of Wolverhampton can participate fully in activities and networks aimed to create vibrant and sustainable communities.

The pretext to this work is the perception that barriers persist that inhibit some members of the local community from engaging fully with a range housing and neighbourhood focused activities despite the genuine commitment and resources invested to ensure that important decisions and decision making bodies are fully inclusive in how they operate. These actual and perceived barriers apply particularly to members of the black and ethnic minority communities who form a significant proportion of Wolverhampton's population and add to its cultural diversity.

With this aim in mind ACOV commissioned a pilot study of the area of Whitmore Reans to test the validity of these perceptions by asking local communities and groups operating in the area their views and experiences of using housing and other neighbourhood services. The study which informs this Action Plan attempts to set out clearly a range of action points that will enable ACOV to review its current practices and arrangements and to put into place a series of steps that might enable it in partnership with other key agencies to meet a number of objectives within its Business Plan. Among these objectives are to 'ensure that housing and related services are fully inclusive' and secondly to 'improve BME representation on housing and related panels, forums and other bodies that influence housing policy and practice within Wolverhampton'. This Action Plan should also be read alongside ACOV's Business Plan 2005 - 2010 and Wolverhampton Home's Housing Partnership Framework contained within Wolverhampton City Housing Strategy 2004/5 - 2006/7 which sets out clearly its strategic housing role through its relationship with Wolverhampton Homes and other housing providers across the City.

If you would like more information about this report/business plan or would like to see the report in full please contact Public Relations Officer Joy Mclaren.

Eating the Caribbean way

BME Folder

For the last fifty years and more, African Caribbean people have been settling, and in many ways were the earliest minority ethnic people to arrive in Wolverhampton. As it stands, 1 in 5 people in Wolverhampton are Afro Caribbean or of Afro Caribbean descent. This is a high ratio in comparison to any area in Europe and twice the national average in England.

With there being an higher than average occurrence of incidences of hypertension, Diabetes, kidney dysfunction and depression in people of African Caribbean descent, the likelihood of admission to hospital for diseases such as malignant hypertension, diabetic crisis, kidney dysfunctions, heart disease, strokes and schizophrenia will be proportionally represented in hospital admissions.

A good percentage of these people who although may not be born in the Caribbean, have been brought up on a traditional Afro Caribbean diet, but yet to date are finding that during hospitalisation these traditional foods are not being served but are having to be brought in by parents, relatives or friends on seeking nursing and medical staff permission.

On the children’s wards, pizzas chips and beans are served but these types of food are not necessarily what the children who have been brought up on a traditional Caribbean diet would often wish to eat. At Least once a day, it is often customary for an Afro Caribbean meal to be included in the day’s diet. Usually this takes place at evenings during the week, and at weekends often for a late lunch or evening meal.

All Cultures One Voice over the years, have been approached by many of the African Caribbean people within the community, who have expressed their concerns as to why their dietary needs were not being met within the local hospitals. For this reason an approached had been made by ACOV’s members Edward Grizzle and Joy McLaren, to the Chief Executive Mr Mike Hackett of Wolverhampton NHS Trust at the ‘Let’s Do It Right – So We Made A Start’, implementing Race Equality In Health And Social Care Conference, in February 2004.

They on behalf of ACOV, expressed their concern as to why a suitable and varied African Caribbean diet was not being offered to a fuller extent at Wolverhampton NHS Trust? They were informed by Mike Hackett that plans were in place for an African Caribbean menu to be introduced at The West Park Hospital in April 2004; Afro Caribbean meals to a smaller degree was being offered at the New Cross site.

A meeting was held with members of the New Cross catering team in April 2004, with the Head of Household Services, Mike Towler, the Catering Manager, Roy Walden, Janet Smith project Leader for New Crosses ‘Patients Experiencing Diversity’ and Jayne Davis Co-ordinator for the Patients Advice & Liaison Service, (PALS) based at the then Wolverhampton Eye Infirmary in the Chapel Ash Area site.

Why Have an Additional Caribbean Menu Choice ?

The ACOV members put forward the following comments on behalf of the Caribbean community who had approached them in that;

  • Eddie Grizzle"There increasingly been comments made from the Caribbean community and others, that It was time that African Caribbean people had a right to Caribbean menu choices, during hospitalisation at New Cross."
  • Frank Lewis"The need for authenticity in the African Caribbean menu choices and correct portion sizes was paramount."
  • Joy Mclaren"Approaching some patients after discharge may be the best way to get their more accurate views on the hospital’s menu choices and hotel services provisions, they received during their period of hospitalisation as, though patients are concerned about their dietary needs etc, they can be more anxiously concerned about their illness, a speedy recovery and discharge, and so may not enthusiastically comment on hotel services etc or complete the hospital quality monitoring questionnaires prior to their discharge home."
  • "What the ethnic mix of African Caribbean people will be in Wolverhampton in the future 20 years is hard to visualise, but with the current trends being as they are, it will be a city which has been predicted to most likely have the largest density of people of Caribbean descent, in comparison to any other in Europe, and with this, service providers may well be interested in acquiring a further understanding of the cultural needs of this community, through the various community consultation processes, and for the community to be responsive in expressing their views on services during these consultation around areas where it is felt that there may be gaps."

Feasibility Study

A feasibility study to demonstrate that there was a demand or need for this type of diet was suggested by Mike Towler Hotel Services Manager, with a view also to see if people of other cultures may be interested in having this option choice.

ACOV in its effort to support in the challenges agreed to:

  • Come up with a 7 to 14 day menu plan as it had originally suggested.
  • To look at New Cross’ Patients Quality Monitoring Questionnaire and how it could possibly be improved to generate interest from its inpatient in completing them
  • To consider meals for the dysphasic patient (Caribbean) that was palatable

The team at New Cross would also be working to meet this challenge.

New Cross had already successfully been making efforts to support the needs and requests of sections of Wolverhampton’s quite diverse community, and had incorporated in its daily menu choices Asian menu choices, within which there were also choices for vegetarian and vegan preferences, based on cultural as well as religious requirements and with this community representing 1 in 4 of the city’s population.

A Kosher menu was also in provision.

Rights of the Patient

ACOV in its representation noted that within the Patient’s Charter, states; “You can expect the NHS to respect your privacy, dignity and the your religious and cultural beliefs and at all times and in all places”. For example,

  • Meals should suit your religious and dietary needs
  • You have the choice of dishes including meals suitable to dietary needs
  • You have a choice of portion size.
  • You are given the name of the catering manager
  • You have help if you need it to use the catering services for example. Menus printed in other languages and large print. This help should be readily available.

(Excerpts from, ‘The Patients Charter – Rights and Standards throughout the NHS.’ leaflet)

For this reason there was a way forward for the requests made to have an African Caribbean Menu choice at New Cross.

On speaking to many members of The Caribbean community, the overall opinion had been that, most people of African Caribbean descent do not wish to be seen as a special case, but as an integral section of the community who can have equal access to service provisions in the same way as anyone else, but with certain sensitivities being taken into consideration concerning their cultural needs, and with the communities proportionately increasing hospitalisation, particularly so when they and their family members are in hospital.

*The Patients Charter was originally introduced in 1991, under the then Conservative government, and revised in 1995 and 1997

Wolverhampton NHS Trust, Hotel services Manager Mike Towler during discussion went on to agree to meet with ACOV again for views on updates.

ACOV saw this as a most positive way forward, in that New Cross Hospital approached this area of concern through listening to and involving stake holders from the voluntary services and the community at large in an endeavour to deliver a better service, in this particular area of concern. 

ACOV felt that with this approach of welcoming the support of the community, Wolverhampton’s Local NHS Trusts Hotel Services Department, at New Cross Hospital, would not only be seen in their endeavours to be making attempts around improvements for its customers dietary needs, but also in being accessible, whilst making these attempts to be inclusive, and responsive towards this particular proportion of patients own particular cultural need.

ACOV’s Input for the 3 agreed challenges:

Task 1.

A Lunch Time Sample from ACOV’s 14 Day Menu Choice’s Plan Selection

Main Dish

1Jerk ChickenRice & Peas
2Steam HakeSeasoned White Rice
3Curry GoatCooked Food ( i.e. Boiled Yam, Green Banana, Sweet Potatoes, English potatoes)
4Ackee & Salt FishPlain Side Salad
5Cook up LambSteamed Vegetables


1Tropical fresh fruit salad
2Fresh Apple
3Carrot Juice
4Crackers & Cheese
5Cornmeal pudding & Ice Cream
6Any English Pudding from ordinary menu choices

ACOV’s Input for New Cross Hospital Challenge

Task 2

A considered very complex patient quality monitoring questionnaire was given to the ACOV members to look at and decide on, how more improved it could be to better suit the needs of the inpatient, and to better captivate their interest in completing one prior to discharge.

ACOV came up with the following suggestion, which in itself may seem complex but much more condensed down than the original, and with significant questions in its opinion which may be more supportive of patient needs.

Below are samples of the ACOV Patient Quality Monitoring Questionnaire:

Menu 1

Menu 2

Menu 3

Menu 4

Roy Walden, Catering Manager, in response informed ACOV members at the end of a later meeting session, that the monitoring forms were in circulation on the wards; based on a collaboration formulated questionnaire from the ACOV above form and the New Cross revised previous form.

To date the revamped quality monitoring questionnaire are in current circulation for in patients to complete aid in the improvements within New Cross’ Hospitals Hotel services.

ACOV’s Input for New Cross Hospital Challenge

Task 3

Needs of The Dysphagic Patient ( Caribbean)

Concerns by the Catering Manager had been expressed regarding the Dysphagic patient of Caribbean descent. ACOV’s membership recommended responses were:

  • Most of the suggested menu choices, which contained complex carbohydrates, that being sweet potatoes, yams etc options, should be suitable to form the right consistencies. Sweet potatoes in particular because of it very appreciative taste and less dense texture would be a good base within a soften diet, bearing in mind that this can also be used to make puddings
  • Cornmeal porridge traditionally has been used for babies during weaning stages, but would be suitable and desirable for the Caribbean Dysphagic patient, with a loss of appetite and with a poor swallowing reflex who would wish a Caribbean menu choice
  • Caribbean soups are easy to blend, or liquidise, and because of its high nutritional content is equally suitable
  • Caribbean Fruit and vegetable punches do tend to have a milk base and is considered textually pleasing and appetizing
  • They are often mixed with other beverages such as such as Super Malt high in vitamin B Complex or ‘Nutrament’ drink (in itself a meal) or with semi skimmed milk
  • Care will have to be taken as some of these items are high in sugar and milk content and will all not be suitable for the diabetic patient and those with lactose intolerance. However, Milk and sugar additives are not necessary requirement

Food Tasting Result

Following many joint meetings with New Cross, procurement for a local Company to supply a Caribbean menu, which would be on offer all that would wish for it, went into action. ACOV was invited to food tasting sessions, with a logged account of their opinions on the menu standards.

The 2 tasting sessions carried out involved 7 members from ACOV of Caribbean descent and 3 other non Caribbean members from PALS, The public involvement forum and patient experience forum who would be food tasting on the behalf of other communities who may wish to choose from the Caribbean choices as an alternate options.

Mike Tyler Hotel services and Roy Walden Catering Manager were present also but were not involved in the food tasting.

Both companies prepared menu’s of:

Ackee & Salt Fish, Curried Mutton, Steamed Brim, Cooked Food, Jerk Chicken, Fried Chicken, Rice & Peas, Plain Rice and Caribbean Stew.

The Food Tasters’ opinions

For Session A and the company suppliers

On the menu choices from 2 companies procured was appetising and somewhat pleasing though not entirely authentic, but mostly acceptable, 1 company being more desirable than the other.

For Session B and the company suppliers

Absolutely appalling! To be rejected at all cost. None of the companies at this particular tasting session were considered suitable enough. So, the very honest opinions which were expressed were taken into consideration by the group of food tasters and the catering manager; product authenticity would be key to any trials success.


New Cross for one year in 2005 had a trial menu order, which was inclusive of an African Caribbean menu. Patients from all cultural backgrounds were reported to have made a selection of dishes from the new Caribbean incorporated menu choices. Reports were coming back to ACOV of their appreciation of New Cross catering department for having made this attempt at having a menu plan inclusive of Caribbean food.

Unfortunately, although reportedly trials were a success, cost effectiveness and sustainability was an issue in this endeavour at that point.

The standard cost was £1.02 per meal and for kosher meals £1.92, these obviously, would have an effect on the costs that would be considered for an African Caribbean meal. However, it was explained that African Caribbean meals were often only eaten once per day, usually in the evenings, often supplemented by an English menu at other times of the day.


In August 2009 ACOV was informed by New Cross Hospital catering department that individual African Caribbean packaged meals are being offered, in view of its 5 percent admissions rate of patients of Caribbean descent, further more plans are in the pipe line in regards to an improved menu selection, for the very near future. So watch this space for an update on this!

Fire in our Arms

Fire in our arms

In 2008 ACOV were involved in supporting a film project entitled " Fire in our Arms". The film tackled issues related to violent crime and featured a cast and production crew of students from The King's CE School and Re-entry in Wolverhampton. This short film illustrated the harsh reality of violent crime amongst today's youth and the consequences most of the perpetrators have to face up to.

Members of the local council and other stakeholders were treated to a showing of the film at the Lighthouse cinema in Wolverhampton where it was said to be a great success and an example of how voluntary groups can get together to bring key issues to the forefront of public debate.

Computers for Community


In September 2015 ACOV were involved in the set up of Computers for Community(C4C).

After Lottery funding was granted, Ian Peddie and the rest of the ACOV team set about the preparation of a course that would enable local members of the community to learn about computer basics. Community members were able to attend this free course at ACOV and had access to laptops and other media devices.

The course covered basic computer skills, including using Microsoft Word, Powerpoint and Internet Explorer. Locals were also able to learn about Skype, emailing, general Internet browsing and the use of different media types such as DVDs and CDs. There was also an opportunity for locals to learn about printers and were able to print off work they had produced.

The course proved to be very popular and was deemed a great success.