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Launch of national resource pack on refugee mental health at conference in Leeds

A new resource pack for people who come into contact with refugees and asylum seekers as part of their work will be launched at a refugee health conference in Leeds on Thursday 14th December. As part of the growing national concern about levels of mental health problems, this resource pack is designed to help people understand the journeys that refugees and asylum seekers have been through that put pressure on their mental health. It aims to help people in frontline services such as council offices and doctor’s surgeries recognise issues and help signpost them to available support.

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Co-author of the resource pack Anne Burghgraef who works at a specialist mental health service, SOLACE in Leeds, says: “I’m delighted that this resource will be available more widely, both on City of Sanctuary’s website and with booklets available. It will help raise awareness about the mental health issues facing so many people who have had to flee their countries because of persecution or war and help more of them access the services they need.”

“City of Sanctuary does incredibly important work in promoting a culture of openness and hospitality towards those fleeing war and persecution,’ adds Anne. “As a national network with over 100 local groups run by volunteers around the UK, the resource pack will have an impact that will be much greater than our work here in Yorkshire and Humber.”

“Sadly, the levels of mental health difficulties are rising generally in the UK, not just for refugees and asylum seekers. Specialist resource packs of this nature can help more people access the support they need and it will also help volunteers signpost people towards appropriate help.” she adds.

City of Sanctuary national secretary Jeni Vine who convenes the Yorkshire and Humber Health Stream of Sanctuary, says: I know that across Yorkshire and Humber there is a wonderful, warm culture of welcome for refugees, which helps people who’ve fled their homelands to rebuild their lives in safety. And where there is fear and misunderstanding, that often comes from British people not knowing a lot about refugees. The wonderful thing about City of Sanctuary is that it helps to build links between refugees and people from the host cities to create stronger communities for all.  This resource pack will help save NHS costs by helping more people access the support they need in a timely manner while helping build understanding of the extent of mental health issues faced by all of the UK’s population.”

Another co-author, Jeff Morgan, retired psychiatrist and volunteer for City of Sanctuary says: “I have contributed to this resource pack because of the great need that exists for clear information designed for frontline staff such as doctor’s receptionists and district nurses who may not otherwise know that specialist support services are available to help signpost refugees and asylum seekers. There is often confusion regarding who is able to access services due to changes in immigration law and the whole area can become very confusing. This resource is designed to help professionals and volunteers ensure that more people get the support they need.”

“This is a fantastic resource that is an essential read for every healthcare worker. It is very easy to read and highlights the mental health challenges faced by this vulnerable group of people.” says Suzanna Mathew, Migrant Health Lead for Public Health England Yorkshire and Humber Centre

Among those attending the conference organised by the Refugee Council on Thursday at Thackray Medical Museum will be sanctuary seekers from some of the City of Sanctuary local groups in Yorkshire and Humber together with supporters united in their commitment to creating a culture of welcome and inclusion to improve the lives everyone in their towns and cities. The target audience is the voluntary and community sector, health and social care professionals, funders, statutory organisations and the refugee and asylum seeking community. The conference will also be highlighting the impact of the new ‘NHS Charging Regulations’ on refugees and asylum seekers and discussing ways to raise awareness and prepare vulnerable groups for this recent change in policy.


Printed copies of the resource pack are available to external organisations at a cost of £5 + p&p by contacting [email protected]