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Hundreds of Ukrainian refugees in Glasgow supported by NHS and Council teams

  • 5 min read
Some of the Asylum Health Bridging Team

Teams from both NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and Glasgow City Council are helping hundreds of newly arrived Ukrainians who have fled the war in their homeland. While some refugees have been hosted in private homes, around 300 are being housed in hotel accommodation – and are being provided support by Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership teams to help them settle into the city.

The Asylum and Refugee Team have successfully moved on 23 households and will continue to match people to properties in the coming weeks and months.

Meanwhile, a specialist, nursing-led health team, has been stepped up to support the Ukrainian guests when they arrive in Glasgow.

The Asylum Health Bridging Team has supported nearly 150 Ukrainian refugees to date, in addition to their work supporting those seeking asylum in the city. The nursing team offer the Ukrainian refugees and Glasgow’s asylum-seeking population an initial health assessment. They also provide immediate medical support and facilitate GP registration for all ongoing health needs or medication requests. The team also refers to other NHS service providers and third-sector organisations to support community integration into Glasgow.

Stewart Curtis, the Nurse Team Leader, who manages the service, said: “We offered our support, given that Glasgow is one of the hubs for the super sponsor scheme, and we have significant experience in supporting asylum-seeking communities.

“It’s been quite a move for us, and the team has nearly doubled in size, bringing in temporary staff to help support our existing staff. But the response from everyone involved has been phenomenal. We want to do everything we can to support our Ukrainian guests.”

The team goes to where the newly arrived Ukrainians are housed, providing initial healthcare assessments, carrying out routine blood screening, and linking them with an emergency GP if they have any immediate health concerns. Similarly, the team supports children, providing a conduit to health visiting teams where necessary. They are also providing ‘social prescribing’, linking these population groups with third-sector partners who provide support, including organisations such as We are With You, Refuweegee and LGBT Unity Scotland.

The team supports those impacted by trauma and conflict while assisting those with immediate health concerns or chronic long-term illnesses.

Senior Health Nurse, Craig Davidson, said: “If someone comes with a long-term condition or has complex health needs and is fleeing a war zone, the last thing we want them to be worrying about is where their medication or care is coming from.

“While they will never forget what has happened, we hope we can alleviate some of the stress associated with their healthcare needs.”

The vast majority are women and children, given Ukraine’s ban on men of fighting age leaving the country.

Craig added: “Children have different needs. Depending on their age, they’re not always aware of what happened with the Ukraine war. They’ve left their homes, many have left their dads – they’re at school one day and the next they’re not – so it’s much more difficult for children to comprehend. However, some of that innocence can provide protection, but it doesn’t dilute the significant worry parents have for their children. It must be very unsettling.”

Stewart added: “The guys have stepped up to the mark. The workload has essentially doubled, and while there has been extra support, the response has been phenomenal, and I can’t thank them enough – they’ve stepped up to the challenge.

“We will continue to provide any and all support until it’s no longer required.”

Susanne Millar, Chief Officer at Glasgow City HSCP said: “Those arriving are in good hands, as staff from the city’s Asylum and Refugee Service, who have a wealth of knowledge and experience in resettling refugees fleeing war and conflict are on hand to help.

“The plan is to move people on from the hotel as quickly as possible, although this can be challenging given the different demands for accommodation across the city. The Ukrainians are matched with hosts who have offered accommodation or housing association properties that have been leased to Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership.

“It is challenging but thanks to the experience of our staff, our new fellow citizens are settling in smoothly and continue to tell us how very thankful they are for everything being done for them and the generosity shown by the people of Glasgow.”

Craig added that everyone is conscious that while supporting individuals in Glasgow directly impacted by war, the team’s thoughts remain with healthcare workers faced with conflict within Ukraine – and that there is solidarity with them. He said: “We’re dealing with the impacts of war, but our thoughts are with the healthcare workers on the frontline – no one should have to face that.

“We’ve been supporting significant numbers of people, but our whole team has pulled together and worked remarkably well under pressure to provide excellence in care and help people integrate more easily. It’s been humbling as a team and is a privilege.”

The team has been bolstered with additional staff members to ensure their regular service supporting asylum-seekers continues without interruption.

Craig concluded: “We love our jobs in our team, and we welcome our Ukrainian guests with open arms and want to provide support to the best of our ability.”