Helping refugees and asylum seekers to find healthcare - Refugee Council

Helping refugees and asylum seekers to find healthcare

Refugees and asylum seekers often have complex health needs. We help them get the support they need while ensuring health services are better equipped to support them.

Refugees and asylum seekers are often particularly in need of health support. The physical after-effects of war and torture, stress-related mental health problems, depression and malnutrition impact their ability to rebuild their lives.But finding your way around the UK’s health system is not easy when you lack confidence to communicate in English and don’t know support is available. This is why many refugees and asylum seekers often do not get the health care they desperately need. The impact can be devastating.

14%

Asylum-seeking & refugee women comprise 0.5% of the population but account for 14% of all maternal deaths in the UK

How we help

We help refugee and asylum seekers understand the UK health system and their rights. We support them with the language, skills and confidence they need to access services that are critical to their wellbeing.

We help them develop an understanding of how to manage their health through activities such as cancer awareness workshops. And we run health related English language classes so that they can explain their symptoms and health needs.

Volunteers are at the heart of the project. Most come from refugee and migrant communities, giving them a first-hand understanding of the cultural challenges of the people they are helping. The volunteers act as health befrienders and advocates, helping people to register with GPs, dentists and optician and attending appointments with them. They help fill out NHS and medical forms, interpret telephone calls and translate letters and documents.

We also provide training for the health sector to improve their understanding of the health needs of refugees and asylum seekers.

1,349

people were supported though HARP in 2018

93%

registered with a GP

72%

were able to access the services they needed

Shama's story


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Health Access for Refugees

The Health Access for Refugees Programme (HARP) empowers asylum seekers and refugees to access the UK health system in an appropriate way and at…


Contact details

HARP Sheffield