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The Homeless, Refugee and Asylum team is part of the Children & Families division of Community Services, Wandsworth. The team delivers a separate service to homeless families and also to asylum seekers and refugees, and offers these clients inclusion into health services.

An appropriate health visiting service is provided that supports families with children under 5 years of age in local authority homeless hostels and other supported accommodation. Refugees and asylum seekers have complex health needs and this service aims to recognise the additional support they require and to ensure their inclusion into mainstream primary and secondary health services. The team has evolved as a direct response to social exclusion, as well as the needs of a hard to reach and mobile population in Wandsworth.

What we offer:

The team delivers the following service to asylum seekers and refugees:

  • Signposting of services through direct contact with refugees and asylum seekers to help them receive the support and healthcare they require. Signposting by itself is inadequate for people presenting with difficulties posed by language, misunderstandings and mental health problems.
  • Health assessments of new referrals. This is necessary to identify health needs and to inform routes of referral on to appropriate mainstream health services. The use of professional interpreters where necessary is crucial to this and all other communication with refugees and asylum seekers.
  • Advocacy; someone who goes with the client to help fill out forms or answer questions, or often to challenge or mediate with staff who are unaware of asylum seekers’ rights. This work is extremely time consuming, but is effective in improving access, attendance and concordance with healthcare.
  • Working collaboratively with health and social service professionals to facilitate access to the services that they provide, and to increase awareness of the problems facing refugees and asylum seekers amongst other healthcare agencies.

The team delivers the following service to families in temporary accommodation:

  • Working with families that have a child protection plan in place. This involves offering support and healthcare advice to the family concerned, liaison with other professionals involved and following the requirements of the protection plan (e.g. frequency of contact with family).
  • Working with families where there is a cause for concern. This involves duties broadly similar to those listed under child protection plans above.
  • New birth visits. These can reach the Health Visitor through a variety of routes, including RiO, accommodation lists from L.B. Wandsworth Housing, other health Visitors and occasionally from the clients themselves.
  • Clinics. These take place regularly in the temporary accommodation hostels that the team covers in Wandsworth, and offer services such as child development checks, weaning and breast feeding advice and general healthcare advice in conjunction with the team’s Community Nursery Nurse.