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Covid-19: Supporting Our Undocumented Migrant Community

Some of our volunteer team

During the pandemic, Hackney Chinese Community Services has been a Community Champion for Hackney, sharing information about Covid-19 to our community. During this time, we became aware that there was an ESEA undocumented migrant community that needed support to get vaccinated.

We collaborated with the London Chinese Catholic Community UK to help them. On April 11, we organised volunteer Cantonese and Mandarin interpreters. They supported over a hundred Chinese undocumented migrants to have their first COVID-19 vaccines at Hackney Public Health's walk-in centre.

Many were not registered with a GP practice, and had no NHS number. Although they were concerned about catching COVID-19, they remained too afraid to approach authorities because of their immigration status. However, when the first hundred people were vaccinated, word of mouth spread quickly, and we became known as a trusted organisation that could liaise with the migrants and the vaccine centres, without fear of reprisal or deportation.

By June, we had already helped 700 people get vaccinated. When the opportunity arose for a Community led grants vaccination inequality project in Hackney, we proposed two vaccination days for migrant workers and/or people of no fixed abode. With our proven track record, HCCS won our bid.

We decided on a day event for Chinese and ESEA communities at John Scott Vaccination

Centre. We could then include the 350 of undocumented migrants already on our books. We could support around 100 younger people under 29 with whom we had conversations about vaccination.

We approached about 450 people via text messages and conversation to ask them to attend the health day. We also used social media and engaged around 30 volunteers from mostly East Asia countries to help as Vietnamese and Chinese translators.

On the day of the event, we organised support from Doctors of the World who answered

questions on registering with a GP; 2 Chinese speaking pharmacists who provided the health checks, our volunteers helped as translators and carried out surveys to find out more about this marginalised community. The pharmacists carried out 62 health check ups and Dr of the World handed out over 250 information cards on rights to register with a GP.

After the event, we continued to liaise with those who attended on the day for their first jab and organised another day on 29 August for them to return for their second jab. We have also assisted about 50 undocumented migrants to register with a GP.

The volunteer translators continued to provide translation support at John Scott for

undocumented migrants almost every Sunday until 29 August, the second vaccination day from this programme. Doctors of the World was able to assist a 5 months pregnant woman to register with a GP and to begin her first ante-natal check up. They have also held discussions with a man who complained of chest pain and helped him to register with a GP for a further examination.

Our team of volunteers have been wonderful and ensured everyone was aware of the risks and side effects of the vaccines. Together with Public Health Hackney, they facilitated the vaccinations in an organised and safe environment, and ensured the smooth running of the process throughout the sessions. We held a follow up event for the volunteers to thank them for their support, and we look forward to them helping us to support the undocumented migrants at our future events.

In all we have helped over 1000 undocumented people get vaccinated. They have come from all over the UK to get our support. We would love to thank everyone for their part in making this project such a success!


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