Wigan Rotary is using Zoom now for its fortnightly meetings which has proved successful with more members participating. It is keeping us in touch and informed during these difficult times due to lockdown. We have invited speakers to join in too and recently Mick Taylor from SWAP came to speak to us as we had given them a donation of £300 to help with the excellent work they are undertaking especially during the Corona Virus.
Mick gave us a lively and informative talk and said Wigan Borough had been accepting asylum seekers as part of the UK’s dispersal programme since 2003 and had a large and growing refugee community. As we are all aware now, statistically, asylum seekers and refugees experience significantly higher than average levels of health inequalities and poor health, with high rates of infectious disease (TB,HIV and Hepatitis), poor mental health (PTSD, victims of torture) and health problems associated with poverty. He mentioned that recent studies have shown that Black and Minority Ethnic men are amongst the most ‘at-risk’ of dying of C-19.
Mick reported that SWAP has been working hard to support our vulnerable clients. They hand delivered multi-language health information and ‘stay-safe’ guidance to EVERY asylum address in the Borough. This was followed by a targeted effort to contact those who were shielding and self-isolating to ensure they had adequate food and medical supplies. Contacting homeless and destitute asylum seekers was their next task, and, together with support from a partner charity Douglas Valley Outreach, they established an emergency fund to give £30 a week to people with zero income.
Many asylum seekers quite simply find everything too scary and SWAP have been contacting the more vulnerable clients to see how they are doing, ringing them up for a quick chat. Luckily, Wigan Council has given them access to their translation service – this has proved invaluable. Plus they have received many requests of support to help people find emergency accommodation, school placements for recently arrived asylum children and essential maintenance within their houses. Unfortunately they have had to cancel all their English classes and group work, but, with the help of a few keen volunteers, they are using online resources to offer educational support.