West Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership (WY HCP), (an integrated care system), is delighted to celebrate becoming the first Partnership of Sanctuary in the country. This is for going above and beyond to welcome people seeking sanctuary into West Yorkshire.
To celebrate the occasion and find out more about what it means to be a Partnership of Sanctuary, dignitaries and other special guests including council leaders, people with lived experience and representatives from community organisations gathered at an event at The Art House in Wakefield on 16 March 2023.
The City of Sanctuary made the award following an assessment of WY HCP’s activities to provide safe, welcoming and accessible healthcare for refugees and asylum seekers. This includes:
- setting up a Health Inequalities Academy and active Health Inequalities Network to understand and help address inequalities across West Yorkshire’s 2.3 million population
- migrant health communities of practice to aid collective learning, encourage innovation and create a support network for members
- fellowship projects focusing on reducing inequalities for refugees, asylum seekers and people seeking sanctuary
- co-funding an animation by Bevan to help refugees and asylum seekers navigate NHS services
At the event, guests heard from those involved in the journey so far and about how we work across Bradford District and Craven, Calderdale, Kirklees, Leeds and Wakefield District to build a more welcoming West Yorkshire.
Speaking at the event, Robin Tuddenham, Place Lead for Calderdale for NHS West Yorkshire Integrated Care Board, CEO for Calderdale Council and joint Senior Responsible Owner (SRO) of the WY HCP’s Improving Population Health Programme said: “This is an incredible achievement. I’m really proud of the work we’ve done to secure this award. The place you live in shapes you, and you shape the place, whether that’s somewhere you have always lived or whether you have just arrived. West Yorkshire is a place that creates a welcome, a place where we care. It’s fantastic that once again we are encouraging inclusivity, solidarity and compassion for people forced to flee their homes.”
Rob Webster CBE, and CEO Lead for the Partnership, said: “Achieving the status as a system of sanctuary is recognition of our ambitions and a reflection of our values as a Partnership. We will continue to learn from people seeking sanctuary to develop services where refugees, migrants and asylum seekers can flourish, thrive, and live healthy lives. In doing so, we will enrich the way we work in ways that will benefit everyone.”
Jeff Morgan, City of Sanctuary Trustee, who presented the award said: “One of the many reasons why the journey to become a Partnership of Sanctuary started was to give back dignity and purpose to people who have lost everything – supporting them to achieve their potential.”
Linda Fielding, Studio of Sanctuary Programme Coordinator, said: “Let us be the alternative to a hostile environment, let us be the way forward. West Yorkshire has set the standard and we hope that it will act as a catalyst for other health and care partnerships to follow and keep spreading the welcome.”
People who have sought sanctuary in West Yorkshire talked about their experiences, including Bryan, an artist and Wakefield District City of Sanctuary Trustee, who said: “We want to be a part of the community, but if we’re not given the chance it’s very hard to do that. It’s not about the language, we can communicate through our actions. You guys understand that.”
Dr Sohail Abbas, Chair – Health Inequalities Network, WY HCP, Deputy Medical Director – NHS West Yorkshire Integrated Care Board, Director – Reducing Inequalities Alliance, Bradford District and Craven Health and Care Partnership, and GP Partner – Kensington Partnership, Bradford said: “Being a Partnership of Sanctuary is about making a place where people belong, not where people are made to fit in. We’ve achieved a great milestone and the journey will continue.”
Next steps include continuing to deliver Safe Surgeries training to primary care networks through Doctors of the World.
The Partnership has published a video setting out its ambitions to become a Partnership of Sanctuary (direct link: https://youtu.be/-4pxJw4M9uE).