Hampshire County Council has awarded funding for the project to improve understanding of health services
A project aimed at increasing understanding among members of the Nepalese community of health services through an interpretation service has received £10,000 worth of funding from Hampshire County Council.
The interpreting service for the community will involve 20 Nepalese people being trained in speaking English and in medical interpretation to assist members in accessing and receiving healthcare.
The grant was one of 15 projects supported with a total of £351,399 by the council’s executive members for adult social care and public health following its most recent decision day.
The grants are intended to improve health and reduce inequalities in targeted populations in Hampshire. They are awarded to local authorities to be used in accordance with detailed plans laid out about the intended schemes.
The interpreters will be used in GPs, dental surgeries, opticians and pharmacies, which have experienced increased strain since the decision to allow former Gurkhas and their families to settle in the UK resulted in large number resettling in Rushmoor.
Rushmoor Borough Council member Frank Rust, who also represents Aldershot East on the county council, welcomed the grant.
He said a significant proportion of those to have settled in Rushmoor were elderly and therefore many experienced health problems and that any way of increasing the ability of the health services in managing this increased demand was positive.
“The county council is fully aware of the Nepalese situation here, especially the demand placed on healthcare,” he said. “I think this will help immensely, but we could always do with more. GPs need more resources and one way around that is to put more money into interpretation.”
However, Cllr Alex Crawford, a borough council Labour member and long-time supporter of the Nepalese community, described the funding as a ‘drop in the ocean’.
“It’s very welcome, but how far is £10,000 going to get us when we have 9,000 Nepalese in Rushmoor who speak very little English?” he asked. “It’s small gear compared to the money Rushmoor has already had and will need in the future.
“Improving communication in terms of healthcare is a good thing, though. Some of the GP surgeries where there are large numbers of Nepalese people have struggled to cope.”
Applications from groups were invited by the county council ahead of the deadline of October 18, before a final shortlist was chosen.
Another Rushmoor scheme to receive funding was a winter watch service, providing a safe place to sleep and food for vulnerable homeless people. The money will be awarded subject to a detailed plan being completed on what objectives will be delivered and how the project will be evaluated, and evidence will be required as to how successful these have been.
Cllr Fairhurst, executive member for adult social care and public health, said: "This will help the community in accessing and receiving health care in the most effective way possible, and reduce inequalities.”