This pilot project explored how to best provide advocacy services for the Chinese community, the most scattered linguistic community living in London and throughout the UK.
The project aimed to improve accessibility and sensitivity of health and social welfare services to the most deprived and isolated sectors of the Chinese community in Greater London. It also aimed to develop the capacity of people in the Chinese community to articulate their needs with regards to service provision. This project recruited and trained over 20 volunteers to accompany non-English-speaking Chinese people to doctors' surgeries and hospitals. Bi-lingual health advocates not only acted as interpreters, but also empowered patients to speak their mind, express their concerns and obtain the level of service otherwise denied to them due to language and cultural differences.
The advocacy service was available free of charge at our London centre, helping with application forms and other paperwork and facilitating them to access health and welfare services more effectively.
Volunteers were trained to the highest level of London Open College Network accreditation. Weekly training sessions began in early October 2002. Volunteers gained practical experience after eight weeks of induction. The course ran for about six months after which the trainees had an option to seek employment as qualified health advocates or to stay with us as volunteers. We offered our volunteers ongoing support, training and opportunities for professional and personal development.