Healthwatch Reading has won the ‘Engagement’ category in the national Healthwatch Awards 2021, for a project exposing the difficulty asylum seekers faced in accessing healthcare.
Around 30 organisations were shortlisted in the awards out of a network of 152 local Healthwatch across England. The awards were presented by Healthwatch England on 11 November 2021 at a virtual ceremony.
Judges said they were impressed by Healthwatch Reading’s “innovative and bold” approach to ensuring people who did not speak English as a first language could still share their experiences.
Healthwatch Reading’s chief executive, Mandeep Kaur Bains, said: “This was one of the most important projects we’ve carried out – ensuring the voices of disenfranchised, displaced and distressed individuals could be heard amid the chaos of the pandemic in the spring and summer of 2020.”
She added: “As a result of our project, further asylum seekers who’ve been placed in Reading by the Home Office have been registered much more quickly with GPs and wellbeing services. We continue to support people to access healthcare, working with Reading Refugee Support Group and other trusted local charities.”
Sir Robert Francis QC, chair of Healthwatch England: “The Healthwatch Awards have been a fantastic chance to showcase how Healthwatch makes such a difference to people’s lives and Healthwatch Reading’s tireless work for its community during the pandemic is a perfect example of this.”
Healthwatch Reading was also ‘highly commended’ in the Covid Response category for making 1,100 prescription drop-offs in the early weeks of the pandemic.
The awards were presented during Healthwatch Week (8-12 November), featuring speakers including NHS England chief executive Amanda Pritchard and historian and TV presenter Professor David Olusoga.