My name is Eisha Khan and I live in Bradford with my husband and three amazing children; Musa who is eight, Mariyah aged six and Minha who is 4 years old.  We have a lovely cat called Fluffy.

We moved to Bradford from London six years ago. I immediately noticed there was a lot to be done for the community around me but I found limited opportunities to influence anything and this led to feelings of loneliness and depression.  These feelings made me think I might have made the wrong decision to move up here. At the time Musa was three years old and along came Mariyah who was born here in Bradford Royal Infirmary. After Mariyah’s first birthday we came to learn that she had delayed speech and understanding which coincided with me getting pregnant for the third time and expecting Minha.

How I joined BiB

As part of this pregnancy I attended a routine gestational diabetes test and was so pleased to be invited to share my experiences and insights with the Born in Bradford Team.  I was particularly keen because I knew my data would be helping other people in Bradford.  I was asked by the Born in Bradford team about my nutritional intake, mental health, access to parks and lots of other things that can make a difference to the unborn child and me.

How I joined the Community Research Advisory Group (CRAG)

I was interested to learn a little more, and because of this curiosity and my experiences, I was asked if I would be interested in joining an advisory group.  I still remember I had a mixture of feelings including being nervous and excited. Joining the CRAG was one of the best decisions I made; it really helped me to grow in confidence both as a parent and as an individual.

I still remember my first meeting where I was trying to compose all my thoughts and I wasn’t sure how it will go and was pleased to find the atmosphere was so friendly calm and not too formal.  Shahid and Aamnah who facilitate the group gave all new members some much needed reassurance that our views and experiences are vital and we will grow in confidence the more we meet and the more we discuss. It helped to build my confidence in speaking up to advise researchers with their plans. Over these four years, we have discussed so many different issues and topics and helped so many researchers who really value the input of the CRAG.

I have used this confidence as a springboard to join the Doula training programme because I felt this is also an area where I can give my time and experience and help society. I know of a few other CRAG members who have gone on to join a variety of other Boards and Committees.

How CRAG helped me

I strongly believe that thinking about the research topics and discussing them not only helped me on an individual level but also holistically. I feel all communities need to know what is happening around us whether its air pollution, dental issues or perinatal mental health problems.  After joining CRAG and continuously seeing the value of my input I realised how important the research efforts are for the betterment of Bradford and now I feel I have to stay here and continue to make this city a better place for my kids and every other child.

The dialogue and discussion (and occasional debate) at the CRAG is as helpful to the researchers as it is to the community members. By involving parents it increases our sense of awareness and knowledge which we can then help take back to our neighbourhoods.

Now when I reflect on my decision to move here from London, I feel it was the best decision we made as a family. Now I feel a sense of hope and positivity in Bradford and so glad to be part of that journey.  I am hoping to be with CRAG for many years to come.

Eisha Khan
Lay Research Participatory Member of the CRAG (Community Research Advise Group) and Volunteer Doula

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