Information for Cardholders
The Healthwatch Essex Asylum Trauma Card has been created to support people who are seeking asylum in the UK and who may have experienced trauma. This initiative is based on a card designed by the Healthwatch Essex Trauma Ambassador Group, a group of people who have experienced trauma. It has been extended in collaboration with Mid and South Essex Integrated Care System to provide support to people seeking asylum in Essex.
The card is designed to be a tool to empower cardholders to make those they are interacting with aware of when they are experiencing the effects of trauma, and to inform those in receipt of the card about trauma and how to more effectively support, and work with, those living with the effects of trauma. It also provides helpful health and care information for those seeking asylum in this country.
You may find it helpful to present this card when speaking to a health or care professional.
Advice & Support
Trauma can be defined as an event, or series of events, which are very stressful, frightening, distressing and/or disturbing. Causes of trauma include domestic abuse, sexual abuse, exposure to crime and bereavement; however, it is very much an individual reaction and there is no exhaustive list of causes.
Trauma can be triggered at any stage in a person’s life and occurs when some kind of external factor causes them to recall the event which was traumatic to them. Again, triggers are very personal and hugely varied, but some common examples can include a smell, visual object or a certain word or phrase. The reactions caused by trauma are equally unique, but often can be likened to the symptoms of a panic attack. The instinct of the individual may well be to retreat, shut down on an emotional and/or communicative level, or to react with a desire to protect themselves. Reactions can manifest on a physical, emotional and psychological manner. The effects have a huge impact on the individual personally, not just in the moment when the trigger occurs but for some time after. They can be hugely debilitating and distressing for the individual concerned.
Trauma is by nature unpredictable and affects so many areas of life for those who live with it. It can manifest in the most mundane and unexpected of situations; for example, at a dental appointment or visiting a chiropractor, chatting with another carer at a support group or taking your child for a health check. It can result in the individual withdrawing and disengaging from these services, which leaves them in a position where they may not receive the level of care and support that they need and are entitled to.
The Healthwatch Essex Trauma Ambassador Group have created the Trauma Card as a tool to empower cardholders to make those they are interacting with aware of when they are experiencing the effects of trauma, and to inform those in receipt of the card about trauma and how to more effectively support, and work with, those living with the effects of trauma.
The Trauma Ambassador Group (TAG) is a group of individuals who have come together under the umbrella of Healthwatch Essex to utilise their skills and lived experiences to help inform, shape and develop health, care and wellbeing services. The group, with each individual member’s lived experience of trauma, has the following aims;
- To educate and enhance the knowledge and understanding of trauma in those who commission, provide and deliver our health, care and wellbeing services with the aim of improving these services.
- To raise awareness of the effects of experiencing and living with trauma, thus creating better understanding within the public and professionals.
- To encourage those in similar situations to access support and empower them to improve their experiences.
If you are living with trauma and would like to contribute to improving health, care and wellbeing services for people in a similar position, as well as raising awareness of the issues associated with trauma, you may be interested in joining our Trauma Ambassador Group. Our members have all experienced trauma through one of its many causes, including domestic abuse, sexual violence, bereavement and exposure to serious crime and want to help those also on this journey.
There are organisations who can offer you support in living with trauma. Your GP is always a good place to start, but you may also find the following helpful:
Whilst some of these sites may promote paid for services, these are not cited as being essential by Healthwatch Essex and are entirely the choice of the individual.
For a confidential discussion about your individual circumstances and signposting or referral to services specific to your needs and area, please contact the Healthwatch Essex Information & Guidance team. They are available Monday-Friday, 9am -5pm, to provide information, signposting and support. Outside of these times a voicemail can be left, and you will be called back at the earliest opportunity. We are here to assist individuals living with the effects of trauma with all aspects of their health, care and wellbeing, as well as their friends, families and professionals engaging with them.
In the United Kingdom we have vaccinations to help people avoid illnesses. Vaccination is the most important thing we can do to protect ourselves and our children against ill health. They prevent up to 3 million deaths worldwide every year.
- protect you from many serious and potentially deadly diseases
- protect other people in your community – by helping to stop diseases spreading to people who cannot have vaccines
- undergo rigorous safety testing before being introduced – they’re also constantly monitored for side effects after being introduced
- sometimes cause mild side effects that will not last long – you may feel a bit unwell and have a sore arm for 2 or 3 days
- reduce or even get rid of some diseases – if enough people are vaccinated
You should accept vaccinations if offered. If you are being given another type of injection, please ask what it is for. You need to understand and agree to have any injections.
Pharmacies are expecting payment per medicine unless you have a reason not to pay. As an asylum seeker you are entitled to prescription medicines free of charge and you should have been given an HC2 certificate. Tick the ‘L’ box on the back of the prescription (HC2 full help certificate).
If you do not have an HC2 certificate and need an urgent prescription, you will need to ring the NHS Business Services Authority (BSA) on 0300 330 1343. If your application has been processed, then a certificate number will be available which can be used to obtain a free prescription prior to having the paper certificate. This must be done by you for confidentiality. However, you cannot be refused the prescription medications by the pharmacy because you cannot pay.
We recommend you ask the person at the counter to scan the QR code on your card and to choose the professional’s option. There will be a question relating to pharmacy which they can click. It will then help them to understand that you are an asylum seeker and entitled to free prescriptions.
Over the counter (OTC) medicines are those that can be sold directly to people without a prescription. OTC medicines treat a variety of self-limiting conditions and their symptoms including pain, coughs and colds, diarrhoea, constipation, acne, and others.
Self-limiting conditions are illnesses or conditions which will either resolve themselves without medical intervention or which have no long-term harmful effect on a person’s health. Minor ailments are uncomplicated conditions which can be diagnosed and managed without medical intervention.
OTC medicines are not provided free of charge, and you will need to buy them. If your problem is more serious and needs the attention of a GP or other health professional, the pharmacist is trained to recognise this and advise you to see your GP where appropriate.
Please remain calm. Generally, the people around you will be aware that there is a local asylum site and will be kind and supportive to help you find your way back there. You have a choice of returning to where the shuttle bus picks up and drops off or attempting to walk back to the site given directions you are provided with. The address for your site is Wethersfield, Braintree CM7 4AZ. In the part of this website that is there for people who may be supporting you we have provided an explanation of how to support you to get back to the site. The phone number for the people who run the transport shuttle is 07481 164536.
The medical centre provides an initial screening for physical and mental health. They also provide vaccinations to reduce the chance that you might become unwell. Equally your details will be registered on a system so that if you go to hospital or some other medical facility you do not have to answer questions again. In this system it maintains records of what has happened medically so that you can be provided with the best healthcare and when ill with the greatest reduction in personal stress. In the UK we have doctor’s surgeries. As there are many people onsite, we have created an onsite doctor’s surgery because the site is in a remote location and that is easier than trying to direct lots of people to surgeries. After your initial screening, registration, and vaccinations.
Commisceo are here to help you maintain good health, however if you need treating in an emergency you may need to go to a hospital outside of the site you are staying on. If you have a contagious illness you might need to be isolated on another part of the site until you are better.
You are being either admitted or discharged from hospital because the issue you are experiencing is beyond the support, we can provide onsite. Therefore, to get you the best medical attention for your situation. If you are being discharged from hospital and do not have any way of getting back, please follow this advice. Please remain calm. Generally, the people around you will be aware that there is a local asylum site and will be kind and supportive to help you find your way back there. You have a choice of returning to where the shuttle bus picks up and drops off or phoning the transport provider to see if they can find you and pick you up. The address for your site is Wethersfield, Braintree CM7 4AZ. In the part of this website that is there for people who may be supporting you we have provided an explanation of how to support you to get back to the site. The phone number for the people who run the transport shuttle is 07481 164536.
In England, you can dial 111 on any telephone.
NHS 111 is the gateway to urgent care, and at IC24, we are proud to provide this service across Mid and South Essex. The 111 service provides urgent care triage if you think you need A&E but it’s not life-threatening, and advice when your GP, pharmacy or dental practice is closed.
Please note: If there is a danger to life or serious injury, dial 999 or go straight to A&E.
You can also visit the website Get help for your symptoms – NHS 111 (111.nhs.uk), for any urgent healthcare advice.
NHS111 Online will not give you a diagnosis, but we will direct you to the best place to get help for your symptoms.
- issue fit notes – you need to contact your GP surgery
- make or cancel appointments for you in other parts of the NHS
If you need help in another language:
British sign language (BSL): Use signvideo.co.uk/nhs111
Other languages: Call 111 and ask for an interpreter.
If you have a medical appointment, please be aware that there is likely to be some waiting time both before and after. Please be patient.
If you are using arranged transport, make sure to arrange with your driver a place to be collected from. If you share your mobile number with the driver they will be better able to collect you. Your driver may also be picking up others so you may have to share your vehicle.
Download a printable copy of the information on this page.