The Kent & Medway Armed Forces Network was successful in securing funding from the Armed Forces Covenant to develop a healthcare toolkit for the Gurkha and Nepalese communities in Kent. The bid was developed through the needs highlighted via our partners in the Network and in respect to ensuring that the Gurkha/Nepalese community are able to understand and therefore appropriately access the support they need around health and wellbeing.
Gurkhas have been part of the British Army for 200 years. Some 3,640 Gurkhas are currently serving in the ‘Brigade of Gurkhas’ which is the collective name for the units of the British Army that recruit soldiers of Nepalese nationality. There are 7 major units in the Brigade:
In 2009 all retired Gurkhas won the right to live in the UK and the current estimated population of Nepali people in the UK is around 80,000 to 100,000.
Figures compiled annually by the charity the Gurkha Welfare Trust estimate the numbers of the retired population of ex- Gurkhas who have settled in the UK. The latest data suggests almost 16,000 “Heads of Family”.
There is a general lack of awareness amongst the Nepali community of how UK health and social care systems work. As a result many Nepali people are not accessing GP services or other vital healthcare and support. Hence, there is a need to create awareness amongst the Nepali communities about the available health services. It is also important that frontline staff understand the needs of this community to ensure that the Gurkha/Nepalese are not at a disadvantage due to cultural barriers.
Research (from across the UK) into the health needs of the Nepali community highlights a significant lack of awareness of how to access interpreting services amongst the community. It is imperative that professionals offer the services of a Nepalese speaking interpreter to patients/clients if language is a barrier.
‘Informal’ interpreting arrangements (such as using family or friends) are inappropriate and can create barriers around a person’s care and treatment, particularly if there is a need to discuss sensitive health issues with professionals.
The The Gurkha Welfare is a registered UK charity that offers advice and support to Gurkha veterans and their families both in Nepal and the UK. They work closely with government bodies and with service charities such as SSAFA, the Royal British Legion and the ABF – The Soldiers Charity to ensure ex-Gurkhas receive available statutory support.
More Resources to come