Skip to main content

Health Stream of Sanctuary – Notes, slides and recording

The Health Stream of Sanctuary meeting was a useful and informative meeting with a knowledgeable panel and animated break out discussions sharing information and ideas.

You can access the recording of the event here.

The Presentations: 

Diana Flores Gallard, Chair of the Health Stream for Yorkshire & Humberside, and a person with lived experience of seeking sanctuary,  recounted her painful story of poor care and treatment as a lone woman seeking asylum. She was left in labour without an interpreter for 3 days during an extremely difficult birth. Soon after, Diana was refused asylum, detained and separated from her baby. Diana overcame this  traumatising experience through her connection with the Maternity Stream of Sanctuary and a befriending project with the Refugee Council enabling her to volunteer and find ways to support others. “I became somebody again. I had a voice. I had an opportunity to be useful.” Diana is now leading the Yorkshire and Humberside Health Stream of Sanctuary.

“Diana who is one of the most inspirational women I know!” “Diana just shows that people who come here seeking sanctuary come with many talents and skills and they just need opportunities to help us.” 

Ian T Russell who worked on the HEAR study – “Health Experiences of Asylum Seekers & Refugees” – by Public Health Wales and Swansea University, presented on this important research which is informing PHW in its progress towards becoming the first Public Health Organisation of Sanctuary. Please see Health Experiences of Asylum Seekers & Refugees – The HEAR Study slides for the details including the recommendations.   We were particularly impressed by the involvement of people seeking sanctuary as peer researchers – not just participants in a survey.

“Great example of university and public health collaboration to benefit people seeking sanctuary.” “Love the engagement of people seeking sanctuary – the only way to do this properly.” 

Yusuf CiftciDirector of Doctors of the World gave an excellent overview of the DotW vital projects:

  • Safe Surgeries – ensuring welcoming and accessible Primary Care Practices through training on registering patients regardless of immigration status and thus ensuring access to primary healthcare. This is such important work supported by people seeking sanctuary who are on the training team and a project which City of Sanctuary groups can easily support to make a real difference to people in their communities.
  • The Vaccines Advocacy Project campaigning for access to the Covid vaccine for all including those with irregular migrant status. 
  • Hands up for Our Health campaign a coalition of around 70 organisations (including City of Sanctuary UK) calling for:
    • the suspension of NHS charging during the pandemic,
    • an investigation into the impact of NHS charging
    • improve access to all NHS services for everyone living in the UK, including developing policy alternatives to the existing NHS charging regulations. 

To access Peer to Peer training for medical students or other healthcare professionals, or any other Safe Surgeries queries: email  [email protected]

Click here to receive updates about DOTW Covid-19 vaccine advocacy project and translated resources:

See the presentation slides DOTW Safe Surgeries Network & HUFOH campaign

“Fantastic presentation!” “What an amazing project/initiative!” 

The Break out Discussions:  

The break out discussions revealed a host of good practice in this field of work and there was a range of inspirational examples shared.

  • Haref worked with Newcastle Medical School and organised 20+ concurrent workshops, involving whole year group of students, each workshop led by someone with lived experience. The workshops were art of wider approach to meeting needs of people facing particular barriers in accessing health care. Could be useful to build on that. At Bradford Health Studies department, trainee midwives hear regular stories form women seeking sanctuary on their experiences of childbirth.
  • The first Trust of Sanctuary Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Trust also produced a Health needs assessment of asylum seekers and refugees in Lancashire and ” Working with People Seeking Asylum & Refuge – Information for Staff of Lancashire NHS Foundation Trust” which could be a template for other regions. Contact the Trust for further information.
  • Hidden Talents – an embedded project partnership between Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and Growing Points mentoring refugees and other marginalised groups into employment in the health sector.
  • CoS UK Regional Coordinators are reaching out to Strategic Migrations Partnerships and local Public Health  bodies at the moment so seeking to forge better links.
  • Yorkshire and Humberside Health Stream of Sanctuary is a wide network of health and refugee supporting organisations  with links and regular meetings to share updates and good practice. It now attracts practitioners from the North East.
  • Problems with interpretation was also brought up in discussions – an important criteria for any health care practice to meet to ensure best practice and a good experience.
  • DotW is developing good practice with medical students inc peer training.
  • Reception staff need training in order to change attitudes/culture.
  • Lots of actual bad practice is NOT in line with NHS regulations.
  • Need to make websites friendly etc.
  • Mental health is a massive issue especially young people and various other sectors have to deal with this eg housing, police. So need cross sectoral training.
  • Importance of hearing the experiences of people seeking sanctuary including  their bad experiences.
  • It was suggested by Yusuf of Doctors of the World that CoS UK Health Stream should be the central point for all health resources from the different agencies and projects.
  • Suggestion that we campaign for local people to ask their GPs to sign up to Safe Surgeries. This is something that everyone can do.

“Thank you so much. The meeting was really informative. Thank you all who shared information and experience.” 

“I am inspired with all the good work that is going on.”

See the Health Stream of Sanctuary Website with a wide range of resources.

See also our blog on the Views of people seeking sanctuary on the Covid19 vaccine with links to resources on vaccine hesitancy.

People may also be interested in this upcoming workshop from Migrant Action on Vaccine Hesitancy and Health Justice on April 14th.  More information.