September 2021 – Quarantine Hotels Service
As borders began to re-open during the pandemic, travellers from red listed countries were asked to quarantine for extended periods in local hotels. It was our role to provide urgent primary care services to these hotel guests during their stay.
October 2021 – Service formalised
We have created a programme of support that is led by the needs of the individuals we meet and influenced by the compassionate professionals who assist them.
Our clinical team work with our primary care colleagues, local hotels and local authorities to ensure new arrivals can not only access emergency medical support but register for ongoing care too. Establishing pathways for people living in the hotels is ongoing and has focused predominantly on mental health, maternity and sexual health.
October 2021 – Supporting new arrivals from Afghanistan
As borders re-opened and we were no longer required to accommodate UK nationals quarantining from abroad, our service evolved. An influx of Afghan refugees resulted in more than 1,000 families, men, women and children being placed in emergency shelter within the hotels we served. Hotel staff were unequipped to deal with the influx of vulnerable people at scale and with little or no fore-warning. We therefore stepped in – focusing on urgent primary care needs and basic humanitarian relief for people with no understanding of how long there were likely to be staying or where they would be relocated to.
February 2022 Partner network formalised
We are very fortunate to be surrounded by an incredible group of voluntary sector organisations who have extensive experience, knowledge and rigorous processes in place to support the refugee and asylum seeker community. Our role was therefore to simply unite them in order to create the most compelling RASS Support Network imaginable. While we continued to deliver primary care services to the hotel residents, our range of partners are able to provide an urgent humanitarian response, by providing essential items and services, as well as signposting to emergency services and support within the community.
March 2022 – Emergency response for Dover and Manston arrivals
We have been able to adjust our early service to ensure that we are equipped to deal with the trauma of those arriving on small boats. Our role has involved training and supporting staff to be able to respond to the urgent clinical needs of individuals arriving, some of which have been burnt from fuel, or suffering from water exposure as part of their long crossings. Many have had no access to healthcare for a very long time. Our focus is always on providing high quality, compassionate care and adapting our service to meet the needs of those arriving.
April 2022 – Supporting Ukrainian arrivals
Our team provided a first point of contact for Ukrainian arrivals as part of their onward journey to host families. We established a team on the ground, including clinical leads, to assess health concerns as well as offer help and advice about the support available. This included distribution of UK mobile phone SIM cards for individuals unable to communicate with those meeting them on the next step of their journey.
May 2022 – 90 minute critical response for Sudanese arrivals
In July we responded to the urgent call for an unexpected flight arriving in Gatwick. The situation required an immediate response and within 90 minutes we were able to bring a team of experienced GPs, support staff, medical kit and urgent supplies. We set up a safe space within Gatwick arrivals, and provided urgent health assessments for those with minimal possessions and experiencing chronic health issues without medication. In addition to urgent primary care support, we provided humanitarian aid to a large number of vulnerable women, often pregnant or caring for unwell children.
Present – Ongoing arrivals
Our established team continue to be a first point of contact for new arrivals, especially if the lead time is short and the project is widescale. We provide our team with ongoing training and development and our extensive support network allows us to develop our robust and agile approach.
Present – Personalised care team pilot
A team of two Social Prescribers and one Care Coordinator have begun to work in collaboration with a range of partners, to support refugees and asylum seekers with their mental and physical wellbeing. Acting as single points of contact they help people to navigate the health care system and connect them to community groups and statutory services for ongoing support.