As part of its role to link with seldom heard communities in Newcastle, Healthwatch Newcastle held a listening event with families from the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Romania at Riverside Community Health Centre in Benwell. Youngsters enjoyed face painting, soft play and a bouncy castle while the adults talked about their experiences of local health and social care services.
Lyndsay Yarde from Healthwatch Newcastle was one of a team of three from the organisation who attended the event, along with Healthwatch Champion Violet Rook.
“Integration can be difficult and organisations such as Riverside Community Health Project help to break down these barriers and promote social inclusion. We were very happy to work with Riverside to provide an opportunity for people to share their experiences of health and social care services.”
People attending were generally very positive about services, reporting good experiences about NHS hospital visits, the quality of medical staff and the respect given to them by all NHS staff.
It’s estimated that there are around 7,000 people of Czech, Slovak and Romania living in Newcastle’s west end and the listening event enabled Healthwatch Newcastle to reach a small but representative proportion and hear their views.
Most of the families taking part in the event spoke very little English and community support workers from the centre, such as Irma Karchnakova, used their translation skills to brief the Healthwatch team.
“My role is to give direction to the families and to ensure that they are registered with their GP and dentist. We give them one to one support for the first three months and encourage them to be independent after that but we are always here to help. The hardest message we need to get out is that GPs and dentists are free in this country and events such as this one by Healthwatch Newcastle help to get the message out to the people that need our help the most.”