Two Community Public Health Practitioners from Sirona care & health were recognised at a Royal carol service to celebrate those who go above and beyond to help children and their families.
Katra Aideed and Amal Aden attended the Together at Christmas carol service at Westminster Abbey on 8 December along with midwives, health visitors, nursery teachers and community volunteers from across the UK.
The service was attended by Their Royal Highnesses The Prince and Princess of Wales, who were joined by Prince George, Princess Charlotte, Prince Louis and other members of the Royal Family.
Spearheaded by The Princess, and supported by The Royal Foundation, the service highlighted the importance of building supportive, nurturing environments for young children and the adults in their lives.
Katra and Amal’s colleagues at Sirona nominated them to be able to attend the event to highlight the invaluable contribution they make to families, communities, and the Health Visiting Service in Bristol.
Katra speaks Somali and Amal speaks Somali and Arabic, and they work alongside the Health Visiting teams to enable people who speak little or no English to access health services.
Heather Julier, Amy Campbell and Leah Tuohy, Clinical Leads for Sirona’s Health Visiting Service, said: “Amal and Katra work alongside Health Visitors offering additional language skills to reduce inequalities and language/cultural barriers to enable parents and their children to access preventative health information.
“They have supported the cultural learning of the Health Visiting team in understanding the communities we serve and the best way to share information. They are brilliant at addressing cultural myths and professional distrust that are barriers to accepting health care. This supports the service in providing a culturally sensitive approach to public health innovation.
“Having people from your community who look like you, speak your language and understand your culture gives more creditability to the public health messages we deliver. They empower communities though role modelling as respected and well-known sources of trustworthy and reliable information.”
Katra has been working with Sirona care & health, which provides NHS and Local Authority funded community services for adults and children across Bristol, Somerset and South Gloucestershire, since 2010. Amal joined the team in 2013.
Amal said: “We help families integrate. When you speak the same language, you know and understand people’s culture and background. A lot of Somali people are suspicious about health visitors because they don’t have them in their country. We explain our role to them and help them to access the service.
“We attend community events so we can talk about our roles and work with other health professionals to share public health messages and raise awareness of the importance of vaccinations.”
Katra added: “We’ve found that when you go to see a family for a particular issue, because you speak their language and they trust you, they talk to you about other issues. They feel they are in a safe environment. It’s a very rewarding job.
“In our culture, a lot of information is by word of mouth, so we try to set up community champions to help us raise awareness of our services and break down cultural barriers and myths.”
The support Katra and Amal offer makes a huge different to families across Bristol and they also help to build cultural awareness within the service.
Katra said: “It was amazing to be nominated to attend the carol service and to know the organisation and our colleagues feel the work we do makes such a difference.
The Together at Christmas carol service will be shown on ITV1 and ITVX on Christmas Eve at 7.45pm as part of a special programme.