Health of Ukrainian Refugees: Take-aways from the Canterbury for Ukraine (C4U) Community Forum

June 20, 2023

By Olena Nizalova, Senior Lecturer in Health Economics (PSSRU) and C4U Trustee, Professor Sally Kendall (CHSS), Professor Lindsay Forbes (CHSS), Julie Reilly (Association of Family Therapists)

On 18th of May, 2023, Canterbury for Ukraine (C4U), in partnership with the Centre for Health Services Studies (CHSS) from the University of Kent (UKC), the Canterbury Christ Church University (CCCU), and the Association of Family Therapists (AFT) held a Community Forum to exploring the health and care priorities of the Ukrainian community in Kent and Medway and, thus, inform health, social care and voluntary services.

We aimed to bring together displaced Ukrainians, health, and social care organisations as well as representatives of the voluntary sector to:

  • Explore health priorities under three broad topics: primary care, mental health, maternal and child health, and infectious diseases.
  • Work with service representatives, commissioners and the Ukrainian community in Kent and Medway to arrive at the priority issues.
  • Discuss how future actions can be implemented into services.
  • Initiate working groups to develop a road map for future actions within and across the three designated topics.

On behalf of the Canterbury for Ukraine and our multi-organisational team, we would like to acknowledge the funding for the Forum obtained from the “Migration and Movement” Signature Research Theme at the University of Kent and the significant contribution to its organisation by Dr Annette King (CCCU, C4U trustee), Professor Sally Kendall, Professor Lindsay Forbes, and Dr Rebecca Cassidy from CHSS, Ms Louise Law (ARC KSS), and Ms Julie Reilly (AFT).

The room was busy with 36 participants (6 academics, 13 Ukrainians, and 17 professionals, including 11 from the NHS, the newly re-elected CCC Councillor and C4U Trustee Cllr Connie Nolan, Dr Kate Langford (Chief Medical Officer from the Kent and Medway Integrated Care Board (ICB), Sarah Deakin (Public Health Specialist at KCC), Michelle Simmonds (Housing Services Manager at the CCC) and Teresa Smith (Canterbury Childrens’ Health Visiting Team). See more details in the first blog about the event here.

Key priorities and actions named within the three areas:

Primary Care (led by Professor Lindsay Forbes and Dr Rebecca Cassidy)


  1. Explaining the system effectively: addressing the need to explain how the health system works more clearly – general practice and its role in the UK; the multiple other sources of health advice and care, how to access them and what people can expect; how free and prepaid prescription systems work; screening services and how they work
  2. Supporting communication about health problems: Ukrainians have usually arrived without medical records and sometimes found it challenging to explain complex sets of conditions
  3. Developing a health record with new arrivals to facilitate future health care seeking.
  4. Considering longer appointments where a translator is needed.


  1. Develop a ‘health pack’ to address information needs from the perspectives of new arrivals with no familiarity with the UK system.
  2. Breaking down language barriers: Clarifying rights to translator services and need to have longer appointments if translator needed; translators for NHS 111 and other services outside general practice.
  3. Demystifying the unfamiliar: additional support for specific services e.g. cervical screening, contraception, social prescribing, mental health, older people.
  4. Developing services designed for Ukrainian community and shared between practices for certain conditions where there may be economies of scale and potential improvements in service quality as a result.

Maternal and Child Health (led by Professor Sally Kendall):


  1. Immunisation and vaccination – differences in child and teenage schedules between Ukraine and England
  2. Access to sexual health for teenagers
  3. School health: training and awareness of school health staff in relation to trauma, cultural safety, signposting to other services


  1. Co-producing and sharing a leaflet that compares vaccination schedules for each country in both Ukrainian and English (to be taken up by the ICB). Also providing text reminders for vaccination and more information about teenage vaccination.
  2. Considering what type of sexual health services are needed for young people and open discussions with YP themselves about location and access and how best to provide.
  3. Initiating discussions with Public Health and the Community Trust about school-based services including trauma informed care and cultural safety.

Emotional Wellbeing (led by Dr Julie Reilly):


  1. Psychological resources and support available and accessible in Ukrainian and with Ukrainian psychological professionals.
  2. Recognising the different and unique psychological impacts of stressors including forced migration, loss and seeking belongingness at key developmental life stages with a focus on adolescence.
  3. Providing support to those who support others including parents and volunteers.


  1. Developing a database of resources that are available with Ukrainian interpretation and or with Ukrainian professionals and seeking advice from professional organisations on accreditation process for Ukrainian psychologists and psychotherapists.
  2. Co-creating a trauma-informed model of care with ICB, local councillors and education services with the aim of delivering culturally aware psycho education interventions to build resilience and coping skills within the secondary school setting.
  3. Considering peer support groups for women, parents and volunteers.

Some of the examples of the near future actions to be undertaken after the Community Forum by the Canterbury for Ukraine:

  1. C4U Health Survey in Canterbury District and East Kent (June-September 2023).
  2. Development of the Ukrainian to English mapping of the vaccination records and its promotion via GP practices and community groups and organisations.
  3. Organisation of a series of informational talks for the Ukrainian Community in Canterbury about various healthcare services available locally and signposting them (during the C4U Welcome Hub weekly sessions).
  4. Effectively using the outreach of the CCC Home for Ukraine support team to Ukrainian refugees and their host families in promoting healthcare services (e.g., screenings like health checks and cancer screenings; sexual health clinics).
  5. Organising future Forum with other refugee communities to discuss lessons from the Ukrainian refugees for the improvement of health of all refugee groups (in collaboration with the Ethnic Minorities in Cantebrury (EMIC) and Kent Refugee Action Network (KRAN)).

If you have any questions about this side of the C4U activities, please contact us at or attend our C4U Welcome Hub, which is held every Monday from 1 to 3 pm at the Canterbury Umbrella Centre. Otherwise, stay tuned by following C4U Facebook page.

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