Migrant Communities: Language Barriers and Experiences of Accessing Health and Social Welfare Services in the North of England

By Bertha Ochieng.

Published by The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social and Community Studies

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The communication problems of migrant communities in the United Kingdom are currently poorly understood. To enable members of migrant communities to make informed decisions about their health and welfare, they need access to appropriate cultural sensitive information and messages. The aims of this study were to examine the experiences of Black African migrant families in accessing health and social welfare services in the north of England. A convenience sample of 90 Black African participants aged 18 plus completed a self-administered questionnaire in Arabic, English, French or Swahili. Descriptive analysis and a variation of the constant comparative method were used to analyse the findings. The study found that although a majority of the participants were multi-lingual and fluent in an array of languages, their lack of literacy and proficiency in English was an underlying problem in seeking information and support, which undermined their ability to access health and social welfare services. The implications of the study are that it is essential for health and social care practitioners to continually work in partnership with migrant groups in order to heighten their awareness of cultural and linguistic diversity and develop appropriate cultural sensitive information and communication strategies. Critically, migrant communities are able to work in partnership with providers in this area to develop good, effective and culturally sensitive translation and interpretation services that are embedded within their communities. Further studies are needed to examine the communication needs of migrant families and the implications of them accessing health and social services within the context of their lived experiences.

Keywords: Migrant Community, Black Africa, Ethnic Minority, Communication, Language, Health and Social Welfare Services

The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social and Community Studies, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp.143-151. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 751.231KB).

Dr. Bertha Ochieng

Senior Lecturer, School of Health Studies, University of Bradford, Bradford, UK

Dr. Bertha Ochieng is a Principal Lecturer, Department of Clinical Education and Leadership, University of Bedfordshire, UK. Her teaching and research activities focus on the health and wellbeing of socially excluded and disadvantaged groups, health inequalities, social and environmental determinants of health and illness; ethnicity and the intersection with health; minority ethnic families accessing and negotiating health and social care services - and in developing research methods that positions excluded people to gain a voice and take centre stage in research. Bertha has grounded links with local communities and a national and international profile through her research work.