A team from Public Health Wales have been recognised for their work helping to understand how asylum seekers and refugees interact with the health service in Wales.
Dr Gill Richardson, Lauren Couzens and Rebecca Fogarty formed the team from Public Health Wales’ International Health Coordination Centre who worked in collaboration with researchers from Swansea University, to produce the report: The Health Experiences of Asylum Seekers and Refugees in Wales (HEAR).
The work also involved teams from The British Red Cross, Displaced People in Action, Welsh Refugee Council and Ethnic Youth Support Team.
The team was awarded Health and Care Research Wales’ Public Involvement Achievement Award 2019.
A poster based on the work also won third place in the poster competition held during the Royal College of General Practitioners annual conference.
Funding for the report came from Public Health Wales' Practitioner Led Research Fund. The scheme, managed by Public Health Wales’ Research and Evaluation team, offers an exciting opportunity for Public Health Practitioners to work collaboratively with external researchers on high-quality research projects
The report examined the healthcare experiences of adult asylum seekers and refugees in Wales and included the views and experiences of both the healthcare recipients and the providers of that care.
It is recognised that this is a particularly difficult population group to reach, a major challenge that needed to be overcame was making sure that the community was at ease with the researchers and there was no language barrier. To this end, the team trained and supported eight researchers from the sanctuary seeking community to engage with other members of the community.
Dr Gill Richardson, Assistant Director for Policy, Research and International Development, said at the time of the report launch:
“Refugees and asylum seekers make a huge contribution to Welsh society. However, the experience of seeking asylum can be very traumatising adding to existing bereavement, transition, loss and stress. We have a responsibility to ensure that services meet the needs of all in our communities, and that we leave no one behind.
“This report finds that Wales needs to build on existing action if it is to achieve its ambition of being the world’s first Nation of Sanctuary, following the recent publication of the Welsh Government’s Refugee and Asylum Seeker plan.”
Alex Newberry, who represented Welsh Government on the judging panel for the award, said: “The application demonstrated strong public involvement activity throughout the whole project and a clear connection to the UK Standards for public involvement.
“The application demonstrated the impact that the public involvement has had as being critical to the delivery of the project, and that the voice of those involved really shone through.”
The HEAR study is a collaboration between Public Health Wales’ International Health Division, Swansea University, and third sector organisations: The British Red Cross, Displaced People in Action, Welsh Refugee Council and Ethnic Youth Support Team.