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Migrant Health Conference May 2016

Advocacy 21 June 2016

On 27th May, a small team from Room to Heal participated in a conference at the University of East Anglia entitled Working with Refugees, Asylum Seekers and other Forced Migrant Communities: Recognising Vulnerabilities and Building Resilience. Michael and Priscille agreed to speak in a workshop, with asylum seekers from other organisations, entitled No choices about me – without me. Panel of Experts by Experience.  The contributors were asked to comment on aspects of their experience in accessing help within the NHS.

Michael addressed the issue of communication, and the importance of a welcoming and sympathetic attitude on the part of doctors. He described experiences both of feeling dismissed, but also of being shown consideration and care, and the vital difference this made in accessing healthcare, and on his subsequent wellbeing.

Priscille spoke in a plenary session on behalf of a group of women she knows, who have suffered FGM. In the workshop, Priscille talked about the importance of everyone, beginning with the receptionists, allowing enough time and showing enough patience for a traumatised person to have the confidence to speak. She explained that if this initial contact is unsympathetic it can fill people with fear, and put them off accessing medical care in the future. She was pleased to be the voice of so many who cannot speak for themselves, and to raise awareness about a specific area that needs to addressed.

Both Michael and Priscille valued the experience of working with other refugees from different groups around the country, and a fruitful exchange was enjoyed by all. There were many organisations represented at the conference and many people were interested to learn about our community.

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