The Public Health Agency (PHA) recognises the great wealth of experience and culture that the minority ethnic population bring to Northern Ireland. The Agency has also identified their specific needs as they can also represent one of our most vulnerable groups. New migrants in particular may have complex health needs, but may also have difficulty getting the support they need (and are entitled to) from our health and social care system.
To help address this issue, the PHA, together with the Health and Social Care Board, has announced funding for a new regional one-stop-shop pilot project for migrants. The pilot, within the Belfast area, will complement existing services and offer holistic health and social wellbeing assessments and screening, advice on aftercare and potential onward referral.
The announcement was made at a major, PHA-led conference on minority ethnic health and wellbeing issues in Northern Ireland. The conference shared local good practice across the region and highlighted external approaches, skills and knowledge that could help ensure good health and wellbeing for all communities cross the region.
Dr Leslie Boydell, Chair of the conference organising group, highlighted a particular aspect of the conference, saying: “There are some great examples of regional and local work, such as the Diversity in Action Northern Ireland (DIANI) project and the BELONG project, both of which work to improve the lives of ethnically diverse children and young people. This conference is an opportunity to share that learning and experience.
“I also welcome the announcement of new funding for a one-stop-shop for migrants. Having holistic assessment, advice and referral will be a valuable addition to the work we do with minority ethnic groups”.
Mary Black, Assistant Director of Public Health, Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement, PHA, added: “The Public Health Agency was set up, in part, to tackle health inequalities. We do this by working in partnership with all other sectors. Although our migrant populations are relatively small compared to other areas of the UK, we still need to ensure that these diverse communities, like our local population, can access appropriate services and support.
“I would like to acknowledge the huge contribution to this work made by the community and voluntary sector and also to thank our speakers for their insight and for being so willing to share their work and experiences, helping us to plan for future work in this area.”
A number of expert speakers from across the UK contributed to this event: Patrick Vernon from the Afyia Trust, London, explained how they tackle inequalities and address health and social wellbeing needs of minority ethnic communities in England.
Fizza Qureshi of Doctors of the World UK shared her experiences of working with asylum seekers and refugees in London.
Eleanor McKnight, former Head of Equalities Support with NHS Scotland, talked about bringing minority health and wellbeing issues into the Scottish mainstream and Karen Wagner, Health Protection Agency, London, presented developments of a web-based guide on health and social wellbeing issues.
Pictured at the conference on minority ethnic health and wellbeing issues in Northern Ireland, 12 October, which included the announcement of funding for a new regional one-stop-shop pilot project for migrants are (L-R): Mary Black, Assistant Director of Public Health, Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement, Public Health Agency; Dr Linda Agnew, GP, Belfast; Eleanor McKnight, Council for Ethnic Minority Voluntary Organisations, Scotland; Celine McStravick, Director, National Children’s Bureau, Northern Ireland; Edwin Poots, MLA, Minister for Health, Social Services and Public Safety; Patrick Vernon, CEO, the Afiya Trust, London; Dr Leslie Boydell, Associate Medical Director, Public Health, Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, Dr Pawel Nowak, Out of Hours service, southern area and Fizza Qureshi, Programme Manager, Project: London, Doctors of the World UK.
Notes to the editor
Contact PHA the Press Office on 028 9031 1611
- The conference is on Wednesday, 12 October 2011, 9.00am–4.15pm, at the Octagon Suite, King’s Hall, Conference Centre, Balmoral, Belfast BT9 6GW
- The Regional Minority Ethnic Health and Social Wellbeing Group is made up of representatives from: PHA, four Health and social Care (HSC) Trusts (not Western), HSC Board, Multi-Cultural Resource Centre, Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities, National Children’s Bureau, Patient and Client Council, Community Development and Health Network, Northern Ireland Community of Refugees and Asylum Seekers. Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister and HSC Business Services Organisation.
- The one-stop-shop pilot will be funded by the PHA and the Belfast Local Commissioning Group.