Information and Signposting


Funding from the CCG to reach people who do not access primary and secondary health.

Community African Network received funding from the City and Hackney CCG through Hackney CVS to reach people who do not access primary and secondary health between April 2016 – March 2019. The Information and Signposting project was delivered over a 4 year period and resourced seven community organisations to help residents receive better health services.

The project reached 3,360 people from various BAME communities (African Francophone, Turkish/Kurdish and Vietnamese), provided them with information about how to access appropriate support and gathered data about their knowledge and confidence in using health services.

Hackney CVS developed the Information and Signposting project because our previous Our Place research told us that:

  • There was a lack of awareness about screening programmes in specific communities, especially black African and Asian communities
  • There was a lack of awareness about GP surgeries and how to use GPs amongst Black African communities as well as a general need for awareness-raising of the out of hours GP service
  • The Turkish Community had a marked lack of trust in health services and the Polish community showed a lack of trust in pharmacists
  • Various local community organisations were working to support their own communities, but did not themselves necessarily understand the way the health and social care system worked in the UK so were concerned that residents were being given incorrect information.
  • Local community organisations’ reach into communities was not well understood and should be better utilised by health professionals and the health care system

So what did we do?

The project set out to provide organisational development support for refugee and migrant groups to help them support the needs of their communities in accessing health services and sought to increase the number of migrant and refugee residents who were enabled to appropriately access health services.  

Hackney CVS knew that local community organisation embedded in their respective communities had the reach to those needing support. As such 6 Community organisations, following a grants process, were given annual grants to run a weekly 7-hour signposting service for their service users and clients.  Doctors of the World, another VCS organisation, was funded to provide a monthly clinic and advocacy for client with complex health access issues and were tasked to provide training for GPs on the rights of access to healthcare for undocumented people. This was provided as a video online training package for all GP Surgeries in Hackney, due to unavailability of practice staff to attend training.

Hackney CVS provided training, support and laptops to the community partner organisations to help them with data collection and evidencing their work.

Over the 4 years, more than 3000 refugee/migrant residents received signposting support and 166 residents registered with a GP for the first time. Whilst many services show an under representation of men, in this project the genders were equally represented.  

a) Successes of the project included: improved data recording, development of a delivery partnership and peer support across groups, improved relationships between community groups and VCS/ statutory services, and the development of a partnership between Doctors of the World and refugee / migrant community organisations  to enable refugee/ migrant organisations to escalate individuals with complex needs , needing advocacy, or urgent medical needs appropriately.

b) Challenges of the project included: the amount of training required for sessional or volunteer staff with high turnover, ensuring systematic data collection, sustainability of capacity, working in an environment hostile to migrants influenced engagement of professionals, and an underestimation by the project of the amount of support needed.