The first two weeks have flown by at Healthwatch Bolton and I’m happy to say that I’ve managed to settle myself on a desk space that is usually free. In this time, I’ve been reborn as a coffee gremlin. It really doesn’t help when there is a funky coffee shop right around the corner!
In the office, I’ve hopped from desk to desk to shadow the in-house community engagement officers and research officers. Developing my understanding of research at collection and analysis was essential for me to start designing a project plan.
On my third day in the office, a visit to the BRASS (Befriending Refugees and Asylum Seekers) Bolton Centre and a review of past case notes captured my attention towards the under-represented and growing refugee population in the Bolton borough. Furthermore, in the past year the borough welcomed 255 refugees from countries including Somalia, Sudan and Congo. This equates to 34 per cent of the total that came to the UK under the Gateway Protection Programme. Realising the cultural and language barriers that may hinder the data collection of this research, I attached myself to the engagement officers who filled me in with their tips and tricks for spontaneous rapport building.
Despite the odd tricky encounter, I’ve loved every moment of my time at BRASS. Almost immediately, I felt at home with my new friends. Not only have people felt comfortable enough to share their deepest concerns and health problems, many have been supportive of my project and some have repeatedly asked me to return and spend more time with them.
Health and social care research is harder than it seems; but the mitigating factor for me is to see the miraculous job of fantastic service providers.