Town Hall Foundation’s Folkestone Refugee Aid Trip

On June 25th 2021 a team from Town Hall Foundation travelled 270 miles from Brighouse to Folkestone, to visit a facility which is currently housing over 400 refugees. The group consisted of Chief Operating Officer Rachel Dilley, Principal Dentist Imran Rangzeb, Associate Dentist Afif Hanif, Foundation Coordinator Louise Reed, and Nurse and Patient Relationship Manager Michaela Noble. Town Hall Foundation worked in collaboration with Care4Calais, our long-time partner Focus4Hope, and the home office to make this trip possible.

The aim of this excursion was to provide dental treatment to a group of 40 refugees, who were all experiencing severe dental pain. In total, the team performed 88 separate treatments, which included extractions, fillings, antibiotics, varnish, and oral health instruction. Rachel Dilley remarked: “The facility was extremely good, and the people there seemed incredibly well cared for.” Despite that, she recognised that in situations such as these, refugees have not had access to the medical and dental care that they desperately need. When they arrive at the centre they are in pain and discomfort. The centre manager will arrange for an outside organisation to provide the treatment they need.

Town Hall Foundation is committed to providing dental care and oral education to vulnerable individuals who may otherwise not receive it, both in our own community and beyond. This trip was a great opportunity for the team to make a big impact by providing resources to these refugees, who are exactly the kind of vulnerable people the Foundation is dedicated to helping.

When asked about their experience during the trip, the team was struck by how grateful the refugees were, not only to receive treatment to ease their pain, but to receive compassion. As Louise Reed says: “Unfortunately, positive interactions are not always the norm for these individuals, who have faced extreme hardship in their lives and scrutiny from the public. They were taken aback by our compassion and excellent patient care, which all our patients receive regardless of the situation. At the end of the day, these refugees deserve kindness and respect, and we were so happy to be able to connect with them in this way.”

As for the technical aspects of dental care, Rachel Dilley commented: “As a team we were extremely well coordinated and it wasn’t stressful under the circumstances, which is down to our excellent preparation and cooperation. Obviously there is a huge dental need for the refugees, and our professionalism helped the day go smoothly.” As Rachel goes on to convey, the team’s triage system meant that patients could feel more comfortable. She says: “Some patients were elated to see us, but some were very anxious, which is understandable. As a team, we felt privileged that we had the facilities and support we needed to look after everyone with the utmost care.

The Town Hall Foundation team is grateful to be able to take trips such as these to help refugees, but outreach missions are just one aspect of what we do. Here in our local community, we provide dental care for the homeless, veterans, survivors of domestic violence, socioeconomically underprivileged families, and other vulnerable populations that do not have access to treatment. Since the beginning of the COVID19 pandemic, our dental teams have also supported the NHS 111 with emergency dental treatments. Our dentists also provide support to a local community centre, where we have operated an NHS practice for the past several years.

Additionally, we provide oral health education to children and adults with disabilities and are advocates for preventative dental education. Currently, we are fundraising for a mobile dental unit, which will enable us to bring dental treatment into the communities who need it most and help more people locally and afar. Further details about our work, as well as photos of our activities and events, can be found on our website and social media pages.

Rachel Dilley says: “As a dental care professional, we love to look after our patients. To be able to translate that into a refugee camp, and truly make a difference in the process, is something that is heart-warming for all my team. It spurs us on to do more, get bigger, and help more people. It makes us so proud, and we love what we do.”

Thanks to our incredible partners for making this trip possible:

  • Town Hall Group
  • Focus4Hope
  • Care4Calias
  • Ashton Consulting Board
  • AHDental Engineering
  • Denka
  • Sabel Cosmetics Limited
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