Bosnia and Herzegovina UK Network

Organisation: Bosnia and Herzegovina UK Network

The charity

The Bosnia and Herzegovina UK (BHUK) Network was set up in 1996 to provide practical and psychological support to Bosnian and other communities in the UK (this encompasses people from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia and Montenegro). The main aim of the charity is to improve the quality of life for Bosnian refugees, who immigrated to the UK during the 1992-1995 Yugoslav Wars.

The project

A one-year grant was awarded for a collaborative project between the BHUK Network, Derby Bosnia Herzegovina AssociationBirmingham St Mary’s Hospice and St Christopher’s Hospice. The project aimed to enable access to a high level of culturally appropriate care in the homes of the long-term ill and dying Bosnian refugees, through the provision of the  Quality End of Life Care for All (QELCA©) Programme. This would enable the development of a training and coaching service to enable volunteers and family members within the Bosnian community to provide emotional support and practical care to those facing the end of life. QELCA© is a practice development programme designed by St Christopher’s Hospice to enable participants to remain in meaningful contact with dying patients without becoming emotionally exhausted.

St Christopher’s Hospice trained two members of staff at St Mary’s Hospice as QELCA© Facilitators, who then provided QELCA© training to five key workers, identified by the BHUK Network, who are engaged with outreach support for older people in the Bosnian community. These five participants worked together to develop a bespoke, culturally sensitive training package for volunteers, over the course of five days. This included setting objectives, practice placement, taught sessions, reflective practice and action planning. Fourteen Bosnian volunteers were then trained in using this bespoke training package and were supported to provide care to older Bosnian refugees and their families, affected by long-term or terminal illness.





Award amount: £37,245

The need

There are c.10,000 Bosnian refugees living in the UK, who fled the Balkan regions during the war. The BHUK Network provides support to this community, such as access to psychological support, advice on immigration and welfare issues and the promotion of cultural, social and sports activities. It also supports older members of the Bosnian refugee community through activities and outreach support, this includes meals, discussion groups and information sessions. The Bosnian refugee community includes many people who have been physically and psychologically impacted by the war and many of whom need long-term and consistent care. The biggest barrier to accessing this care is the inability to speak and understand English. This has led to many older people not receiving good or culturally appropriate end of life care. The model of palliative care being given in the setting of a hospice is not widely accessible to many in the community, therefore, it is imperative that the conditions are created to allow people, where possible, to die at home. This requires family and friends to be given support and relies upon the formal use and training of volunteers. Currently, none of the volunteers at BHUK Network have formal qualifications in delivering end of life care.

 Is it working?

The project has directly benefited 21 Bosnian refugee families so far, through the provision of culturally sensitive, community-based end of life care. The volunteers who received training through the QELCA© Programme will be able to continue providing care in the community, giving older Bosnian refugees the ability to plan and influence their end of life requirements and access end of life care and support. Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice has now become a local satellite for the delivery of the QELCA© Programme, which means they can empower more people working in non-specialist care settings to support the delivery of better end of life care in the Midlands.

Of the people who took part in the QELCA© training:

  • 85% felt more knowledgeable about end of life care;
  • 90% felt more confident dealing with terminally ill patients in regard to understanding their pain levels and mindsets;
  • 89% were satisfied with the QELCA© training.

As a result of the project, BHUK Network has strengthened its ties with Birmingham City Council (Refugees & Migration Prevention, Communities and Migration team) and were invited to present work on the project at a regional conference on the 27th January. Birmingham City Council have also expressed an interest in BHUK Network sharing their experience with other refugee groups in the region.