Maxine Hoeksma finds out how the refugees and asylum seekers service works with other health organisations, charities and GP practices to support some of the capital's most vulnerable people.
Aminata Diop has diabetes and high blood pressure and has lived in a hostel for almost two years alongside more than 150 people.
Originally from Senegal, the 47-year-old has been awaiting the outcome of her asylum seeker application since 2016.
While living with uncertainty proved even more challenging during lockdown, Aminata remains grateful for the support provided by Guy's and St Thomas' refugees and asylum seekers service.
She said: "One of the nurses, Jasmine, is a very good nurse and she talked to me about getting the vaccine because I am diabetic. During the lockdowns, Jasmine and my doctor would call and tell me that I needed to get out every day and go for walks in the park for exercise."
She added: "The team are excellent. They always want me to look after my health. They offer blood tests, eye test appointments and cervical smear tests. They always call me to find out whether I am checking my blood sugar too."
Aminata is one of around 1,300 people in south east London who may be helped by the refugees and asylum seekers service, which includes GPs, nurses, therapists and administrative staff.The team provide clinics in health centres, a hostel, day centres and hotels in Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham, working closely with other health organisations, charities, and GP practices.
People receive health screening for a range of conditions including tuberculosis, Hepatitis B and C, HIV and diabetes, and are supported to register with a local GP.
Carmen Rojas, manager of the team, said: "Our teams have specific skills in supporting people who have experienced significant challenges and sometimes very distressing events in their lives. For example, we are skilled in assessing and supporting situations in which people may have experienced female genital mutilation, torture, sexual exploitation or post-traumatic stress disorder.
"Our team also provide training for colleagues in other healthcare, social care and voluntary sector teams."
Dr Shazia Munir, a GP and Joint Clinical Lead for the refugees and asylum seekers service, said: "We aim to reduce presentations to A&E and support our local GPs, who are working so hard already.
"As GPs we've seen how social isolation through COVID-19 can affect the mental health of anybody. But for this group, with their extra vulnerabilities, the impact has been even bigger."
The team set up a 12-week mindfulness gardening group for asylum seekers and refugees, and were supported by the Lambeth GP Food Co-op.
The group practise mindfulness techniques and grow flowers and vegetables such as tomatoes, potatoes and aloe vera.
Martine Burke, a wellbeing practitioner who leads the group, said: "We create an opportunity for people to socialise with one another, to break away from the isolation of their day-to-day lives.
"When they experience unwanted thoughts, feelings or pain, they can use breathing or mindfulness movement practice as an anchor, to guide themselves back to the present moment. These techniques are particularly useful for managing fear, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and pain.
"Participants practise new skills and take these home with them, helping them to relax, sleep and function better. There is also ongoing support — they can call me and I call them during the week."