Christo Chakalov, The Social Inclusion Team
Christo Chakalov, from the Social Inclusion Team, discusses why he is proud to care
I am the line manager of the social inclusion team. My team mainly support asylum seekers, refugees, and migrant workers. This includes the BAME, Irish travelling, and Deaf communities who live and work here in the UK but may not be aware of the services available to them. The main job of our team is to facilitate access to health care services and work, to make sure that care is provided to everyone who needs it, including some of the most vulnerable people within our society. The team plays a vital advocacy role for groups or individuals who might otherwise be unable to navigate the NHS effectively due to language or cultural barriers.
The team is also in a good position to spot trends, such as the growth of emerging communities or particular problems such as new arrivals living in overcrowded conditions. We can identify issues specific to individual communities that traditional commissioning processes would not be expected to pick up. For example, we know that people from certain areas are more prone to certain diseases and understand first hand – not least because the team is largely drawn from the communities it works with – that asylum seekers often suffer from post-traumatic stress disorders and other mental health problems.
We run 17 drop-in sessions across Liverpool, alongside partner organisations such as Asylum Link Merseyside, to find the best care and support for asylum seekers, refugees, and migrant workers. These are available to both adults and children as we work with children’s centres to provide holistic care for the communities. Our team has a variety of different skills and most of them speak two or more languages, meaning we can help a diverse range of patients to find the suitable care and information they need.
We have developed a completely unique approach to dealing with patients. Our project with B&M Distribution Centre in Liverpool allows us to hold a drop-in session for people who work at one of their locations. The majority of people employed by B&M are from Polish or Eastern European backgrounds. They can ask us a variety of questions, or we can provide them with information on NHS services, and others available to them. They are able to discuss any health issues or concerns with a health link worker to provide instantaneous care and support from the minute they begin work at the B&M centre. We also offer support for housing issues, or career and schooling advice. Our team is trained to direct our patients to different services depending on their individual needs.
The Social Inclusion Team use mobile devices on a daily basis. The Health Link and Advocacy workers have found that all mobile devices are extremely useful, because ‘if a client needs further support to access services, the member of the team can access that information, and sometimes in the client’s native language. This obviously saves time both for our staff and our patients.’ Members of the team can engage with the community wherever they happen to be working, providing consistent care.
We have 10,000 contacts a year and around 900 referrals. Our service helps to tackle both health and social issues across several communities. One of our patients, who still accessed their dental services in Lithuania, used our service to find the right information and support in order to register with a local dentist. We provided all the advice and guidance to help the patient gain easier access to important healthcare. I am passionate about our services because they make a real difference to people’s lives. I am proud to care because our work helps patients and families to feel supported and included in the Liverpool community.