• Evaluation of the sleep project for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in Kent

      Carr, Helen; Hatzidimitriadou, Eleni; Sango, Precious Nonye; Canterbury Christ Church University (Canterbury Christ Church University, 2017-12-01)
      It has been a privilege to evaluate the Sleep Project intervention for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC). The opportunity to evaluate this project arose through discussions between the authors and Dr. Ana Draper, exploring the work of Ana, her team and colleagues across the various agencies in supporting newly-arrived migrant children in Kent. From 2015, there was a rapid increase in the number of UASC arriving into the region and services were quickly adapted to meet the specific and immediate needs of these vulnerable children and young people, the Sleep Project being just one of the innovative interventions put in place. Unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and young people have usually experienced harrowing journeys to the United Kingdom (UK) in seeking safety and refuge. Once in the UK, adapting to life within reception centres, foster families or supported housing, brings further challenges and within this context, practitioners and the young people identified sleep as a key problematic issue for which they required extra support. Through conversations with practitioners and young people, sleep difficulties were a recurring issue. Lack of sleep and disturbed sleep was preventing the young people from engaging in planned activities such as language classes. Tiredness was having negative health and social/educational impacts. This evaluation studies the benefits and challenges of the creative support mechanisms that were developed to address the sleep issues. This report presents our findings from the evaluation study of the Sleep Project intervention. The study comprised of 18 interviews with practitioners either working directly or indirectly with UASC, in paid and voluntary capacities. From the interviews, the qualitative data was thematically analysed to develop themes under which the benefits and challenges of the intervention could be explored. Throughout the interviews with practitioners working either directly with UASC or indirectly in managerial roles, it became apparent that there was a high level of commitment from individuals to develop their understanding of UASCs’ needs and to develop appropriate social care practice and support. The interviews highlighted that practitioners were prepared to think and act creatively to improve and to tailor support for this group of children and young people. The findings of the evaluation suggest that the Sleep Project was very well-received by young people and practitioners alike. It provided practical resources and support for good sleep, and it encouraged conversations to develop between the practitioners and the young people, and between the young people themselves, normalising the sleep issues that they were experiencing, and, according to interviewees, the young people were found to be encouraging other young people to use the good sleep packs. The intervention helped the practitioners feel more confident and equipped with skills to talk to the young people about sleep and, possibly, this led to deeper discussions about individual journeys and experiences, allowing care to become more empathetic, specific and person-centred. Significantly, interviewees reported that the project allowed them to ‘look at the basics’, that is, practical help such as providing night lights and educating young people about factors that hamper a good night’s sleep, whilst practitioners gained a greater understanding and responsiveness as to why the young people could struggle with sleep. This greater understanding has been important for shifting the perceptions of practitioners, particularly those in educational roles, helping them to be more patient and supportive to young people struggling to get to lessons on time and to concentrate. Key messages from the findings of this evaluation study are encapsulated in the following quotes from interviewees: • ‘I think it’s thinking a bit more innovatively about the care we can provide’ • ‘A confidence to look at the basics’ • ‘Context switched concepts’. Proposed recommendations involve: sustaining the work so far, looking at how the project could/should have a legacy, and building on the developed knowledge and networks. At the time of the publication of this report, young people are being transferred to other receiving local authorities outside Kent – a national dispersal scheme that was agreed by the Home Office in June 2016 to ease the pressure on Kent - therefore good practice from this project should be widely disseminated to service providers and policy makers at regional and national levels.
    • Social prescribing in Bexley: pilot evaluation report

      Palmer, D.; Wheeler, J.; Hendrix, E.; Sango, Precious Nonye; Hatzidimitriadou, Eleni; Mind in Bexley; Canterbury Christ Church University (Mind in Bexley, 2017-01-27)
      Social prescribing is becoming recognised as an important means of harnessing the resources of the voluntary and community sector to improve the health and wellbeing of the public. It provides GPs with a non-medical referral option that can operate alongside existing treatments to improve health and well-being. While there is no widely agreed definition of social prescribing, or ‘community referrals’, reports on social prescribing include an extensive range of prescribed interventions and activities. The paper ‘A Call to Action’ by NHS England highlights social prescribing as a crucial means of empowering the public, enabling greater self-management of health and providing for people’s non-clinical needs in a timely way. The aim being to promote integrated health and social care, partnered with the voluntary and community sector. There is however little in the way of supporting evidence of effect to inform the commissioning of a social prescribing programme. Evidence on the cost effectiveness of social prescribing schemes is also lacking. The aim of this research was to evaluate the benefits and limitations of a social prescribing pilot which took place in the Clocktower locality (London Borough of Bexley) over a 24-month period and this work forms the main body of the study. The evaluation primarily covers individuals who accessed and fully engaged in the first eight months. The pilot which started in April 2015 was hosted by Mind in Bexley and focuses on nine GP practices covering a population of approximately 80,000. The evaluation was thorough and comprehensive incorporating both quantitative and qualitative analysis. Quantative data analysis and draft findings were undertaken by the School of Public Health, Midwifery and Social work at Christchurch University. The quantitative approach included an analysis of the Warwick and Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (WEMWBS) in addition to data on the number of primary care and secondary appointments including hospital admission data for those who participated in the scheme. The qualitative aspect of the evaluation involved in-depth interviews with participants. Although measuring the impact of the project on the wellbeing of participants is challenging the use of both qualitative and quantitative analysis was