People migrate for a variety of reasons, primarily for work, study or protection. Figures from Migration Yorkshire show that 2,523 new migrants came to Kirklees in 2016 and in the beginning of 2017, 623 people were being supported as asylum seekers. Kirklees Council agreed to resettle 131 Syrian refugees as part of the government resettlement programme, however exact numbers for refugees of other nationalities are unavailable.
Evidence shows that physical and mental health outcomes are poorer for the non-UK born population, who generally arrive relatively healthy but experience deteriorating health over time. In order to gain a better understanding of health issues, inequalities and barriers in newer migrants, Healthwatch Kirklees felt it was important to conduct engagement work in our area.
The points listed below relay the information we collected in Kirklees over the period of January 2017 to October 2017, when we visited various organisations that help migrants or deal with migrant health and wellbeing, in addition to attending meetings regarding asylum seekers or migrant-related issues.
- Mental health was the most prevalent issue raised; health barriers are caused by stigma, lack of sufficient information provided between healthcare services and insufficient services being available for children, in particular those who have experienced severe trauma.
- People struggle to understand how systems work in the UK, which is exacerbated by factors including staff confusion surrounding accessibility to services, financial difficulties, being fearful of financial penalties, negative consequences of completing forms incorrectly, and insufficient periods of time allocated to providing information to people unfamiliar with Kirklees or the UK in general.
- Women and children can be the most vulnerable and voiceless migrants.
- The way in which demographic information is currently collected is a missed opportunity to understand the views and feelings of people from emerging communities.
- Life is very challenging for people who lack or possess limited English literacy skills and accessing ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) classes is very difficult due to high demand and financial pressures. In addition, people struggle to communicate without interpreters and thissometimes acts as a barrier to accessing services.
- Lack of cultural awareness, or not taking into account cultural differences can lead to people who are new to the UK mistrusting advice or services, unnecessarily worrying about their health or feeling unnerved in a service setting.
- Migrants seem to be more accustomed to a comparatively more medicalised healthcare system than that in the UK.
- Cultural beliefs and expectations contribute to feelings of mistrust, stigma, taboos and myths. There is a need to acknowledge that cultural conflict exists for newer migrants by developing programmes to help people experience an easier acculturation process in the UK. However, more also needs to be done to promote the value of different cultures in order to help people feel accepted, welcome and encouraging integration. In addition, the health literacy in some migrant populations can lead to health disparities.
To view the full report click here: Emerging Communities – Final report