With no knowledge of the health system or support available to her, Shama did not recognise the signs of pre-eclampsia – a dangerous pregnancy condition that threatens both mother and baby. Thankfully, paramedics were able to save them. This frightening experience prompted Shama to learn more about how to care for the health needs of herself and others in her situation.
Shama became a ‘health befriender’ for pregnant asylum seekers and refugees with the Refugee Council. We trained her in how to access health, maternity and mental health services in the UK – and how to pass this information on to other women. It included listening skills and confidentiality, as well as safeguarding, domestic abuse, FGM and the asylum process.
Since then, Shama has built trusting relationships and proudly supported many women through their pregnancies. She has also grown in confidence – though naturally shy, she is now able to speak out in public, sit on interview panels and has a job as an interpreter at the Refugee Council.