“Human rights, health equity and access to healthcare have always been great passions of mine, whether at home in the UK or globally.”
Sophia Turner tells us of her motivations for joining UK-Med and the importance of child safeguarding training. Sophia got an honourable mention for her entry into Year of Nurse and Midwife Nursing in Focus Photography Competition.
Hello Sophia. Can you tell us about yourself?
My passions and interests include safeguarding emergency nursing and trauma health care, infectious disease and outbreak response, and migrant healthcare and operations management.
Since a young age I have volunteered in multiple capacities both in the UK and overseas. Some people have told me that I am a bit of a Utopian, however I have always strived to build a better world prepared to help others; striving to improve access to healthcare for others, providing emotional support to those in distress and advocate for those who are vulnerable, no matter what country, culture, beliefs or background. I believe we are all equal as humans.
At the age of 18 I began extensive training to be an emotional support volunteer for a UK charity. Over the last 12 years I have provided emotional support to many in distress and in multiple settings; to health and social care workers, those in prison, the homeless, at hostels, festivals, events, via the telephone, face to face, over email, and am part of the Network Rail/Samaritans suicide prevention collaboration.
I qualified as a BSc nurse with a First class honours degree in 2012. I have always had a drive to pursue a career in humanitarianism, which is why I was drawn to emergency nursing and to undertake further advanced clinical courses and courses related to health in humanitarian settings. Since qualifying as a nurse, I have undertaken courses in Emergency Nursing, Advanced Life Support, Advanced Burns Management and Advanced Trauma Nursing; Diploma in Tropical Nursing, Health in Complex Humanitarian Emergencies and Emergency Obstetrics in Limited Resourses Settings, and most recently my MSc International Disaster Management at the Humanitarian Conflict Response Institute, UoM, among others.
Within my emergency nursing career I have held clinical, mentoring, leadership and managerial roles.
In 2017 I volunteered in a Greek refugee camp where I was part of a team providing emergency care to migrants on the shoreline post boat landings and within the camp. I was also involved in chronic condition monitoring and management, infection prevention control and contract tracing, and assisted in the development of clinical and emergency procedures.
What makes safeguarding so important?
Safeguarding is paramount in all aspects of our lives to ensure that children and vulnerable adults’ health, well-being and human rights are upheld, and to maintain their safety from immediate or potential risk. Mechanisms to protect vulnerable individuals and for those caring for the vulnerable are vital to protect people from harm and to prevent them from harming others. Unfortunately, vulnerable people, including children, are sometimes harmed either intentionally or non-intentionally by others. It is therefore our role and duty as health workers to minimise these risks and safeguard these individuals.
What was the key takeaway from the training?
The key takeaway from the training was the importance of recognising, how to recognise and escalate concerns for those who are at particular risk and vulnerable to abuse during emergencies and disasters, especially children; including unaccompanied children and those at risk of SGBV, trafficking and exploitation.
The training also provided specific guidance in regard to the UKEMT’s safeguarding SOPs including the child safeguarding policy, in child protection, SGBV and Age and Disability.
How did attending the safe-guarding training equip you for your recent deployment to Samoa to assist with the Measles’ outbreak?
My previous experience in child safeguarding in collaboration with UK social services both within foster care (eight years experience as a Support Respite Foster Carer) and a UK emergency department (eight years experience as a nurse), coupled with the UK-Med safe-guarding training, enabled me to undertake the role of Safeguarding and Protection Lead during my recent deployment to Samoa to assist with the Measles’ outbreak.
Although safeguarding concerns were minimal during the deployment; the training highlighted the need to ensure safe discharge of child patients with the presence of their parent or caregiver. It also highlighted areas where patients’ parents required additional support prior to discharge which we were able to provide with the collaboration of the Samoan hospital psychological well-being team and their nutritionist.