Groundbreaking research into the health of asylum seekers and refugees in the north of Glasgow is being unveiled today.
Undertaken over 18 months, the Supporting New Communities study has researched the healthcare needs of the asylum seeker and refugee communities within the north of Glasgow. The document examines health needs across the spectrum, incorporating GPs, mental health services and drugs and alcohol awareness. It highlights several examples of good practice and calls for continuing further improvement in services.
Supporting New Communities identifies a number of successful strategies already operating within NHS Greater Glasgow. A number of studies have shown, for example, that mental health problems can be a particular issue for asylum seekers and refugees. In response, NHS Greater Glasgow established some years ago the Compass Team – a multi-disciplinary team of mental health specialists based in Springburn.
Other measures taken to promote good health among asylum seekers and refugees include the automatic registration of every new arrival with a Glasgow GP, a specialist team of health visitors looking after the health of children within the community, the provision of information on how to access healthcare in Glasgow and the extensive use of interpreters in both GP surgeries and hospitals.
Naasra Roshan is NHS Greater Glasgow's Health Promotion Officer with responsibility for asylum seekers and refugees, and wrote the study. She believes it will be an important tool for future planning: "It's been more than five years since the first asylum seekers came here under the dispersal programme, and since then there's been no project on this scale to find out the state of their health. We very much needed to take stock of what we're doing well and where things could be better.
"I think Glasgow probably has the best, and the most co-ordinated, healthcare for this community anywhere in the UK, and it was good to see that confirmed. Supporting New Communities is also going to be very useful as something to base our future developments on."
The study has been innovative in its methodology, training a number of asylum seekers and refugees, as well as people from black and ethnic minority backgrounds, to act as peer researchers.
Among the nine volunteer peer researchers was Francine Bucumi: "I was afraid of talking to people before I started working on this but I have confidence now. I think doing the research will help the asylum seekers and refugees we spoke to and it was good for me too. Now, I have a job in Glasgow and I think being one of the researchers on Supporting New Communities helped me get it."
Chief Executive of NHS Greater Glasgow, Tom Divers, believes the collaborative approach to the research process has yielded priceless information: "Everyone who has taken part in this has done the NHS in this city a great service. We have a duty to look after people's health, but we can only do that when we know what their health needs are. Supporting New Communities will help us to ensure that we continue to provide the health care that our new Glaswegians need and deserve".