Community Health Champions | Tel: 01782 683030 | [email protected]

Refugee Week 2022

Refugee Week is a time to celebrate the diversity and culture that refugees bring to our country and our communities. It’s a UK-wide festival celebrating the contributions, creativity, and resilience of refugees and the brave people seeking sanctuary and hoping to build a new, safer life for themselves and their families.

“Through creativity and conversations, Refugee Week 2022 will be a celebration of community, mutual care, and the human ability to start again.” Refugee Week

In the 12 months to March this year, over 55,000 asylum applications were made – a 56% increase from the year before. Those applications were from several countries, Iran, Iraq, Albania, and Syria to name a few. The figures for this year are probably going to be even higher, particularly since the war in Ukraine continues to drive people to flee their war-torn country.

When asylum is granted, it should be a huge relief and cause for celebration, but for many, trying to build a new life in a new country can be daunting. That’s before you consider any health and wellbeing needs.

There are already significant health inequalities in the UK, particularly within our most deprived and vulnerable communities. So, for people who are new to the UK, who often aren’t able to speak English, and have almost certainly experienced some kind of trauma, finding healthcare and mental health support can be even more difficult. Asylum seekers and refugees can have complex health and care needs which can stem from their experiences in their country of origin, during their journey, or since their arrival in the UK.

Supporting people in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire

The Community Health Champions project is all about enabling people to understand the health messages from multiple authorities and to be able to make informed decisions about their health and wellbeing. Our resources section has many different translations of the health information asylum seekers might need when arriving in the UK.

  • COVID-19: COVID is still circulating in local communities and the Health Security Agency is still reminding people to be cautious. There are multiple resources that have been translated into various languages for those who do not speak English or English is not their first language.
  • Accessing services: Most refugees and asylum seekers will be entitled to NHS-funded treatment and care.
    • Primary Care (GP services): All refugees and asylum seekers can register with a GP and access primary care the same way UK nationals can. This care is free of charge and includes access for refused asylum seekers too.
    • Secondary care (hospital and community care): All refugees and asylum seekers with an active application or appeal can access hospital and community care in the same way any UK national can.
  • Routine and childhood vaccinations: Asylum seekers and refugees are still able to get up-to-date with their routine and childhood vaccinations and the NHS has produced information leaflets in multiple languages that cover vaccinations against various diseases and infections for adults, children, babies, teenagers, pregnant women, older people, and those with a weakened immune system.
  • Mental health support: Online and telephone mental health support are also available for refugees and asylum seekers.
    • Barnardo’s Boloh Helpline has expanded. Previously only offering support to children, young people, and their parents, the helpline has expanded to include the mental health and wellbeing of adult asylum seekers across the UK.
    • The Staffordshire Mental Health Helpline offers emotional support for people in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire that are concerned about their mental health or that of someone they know.

Refugee Council works nationally with thousands and thousands of refugees and asylum seekers arriving in the UK every single year. Their publication ‘A note on barriers experienced by refugees and people seeking asylum when accessing health services’ identifies the barriers that refugees face when looking for and accessing health services. These could range from issues with registering with a GP, to being offered interpreter services at appointments, or sometimes the psychological impact of their previous experiences.

“People seeking safety in the UK are often deeply traumatized and are faced with complex psychosocial challenges.” Refugee Council

In Stoke-on-Trent a number of groups provide information, advice, and support to those settling in the city:

  • For nearly 20 years Asha North Staffordshire has been providing support to asylum seekers enabling them to live in safety and with dignity and promoting the social integration of asylum seekers and refugees. For Refugee week, on Saturday 25th June Asha is holding a celebration event with fun, games, live music, dancing, and a BBQ. See this poster for all the details: Refugee Week flyer June 2022
  • Burslem Jubilee Group provides social, educational, and leisure activities as well as English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) courses. The group has recently received a donation of laptops from the Donate IT scheme to help support these activities.
  • Afghanistan and South Asian Association operate across Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire to promote and facilitate the integration of newly arrived refugees, asylum seekers, and BAME residents through various projects.
  • Citizens Advice Staffordshire North and Stoke-on-Trent Refugee and Asylum Advice Service provide Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC) regulated immigration advice on any type of immigration issue, at any level.

Find more local refugee and asylum seeker support in the Stoke-on-Trent Community Directory.