For over 10 years, Sheffield Health International Partnerships (SHIP) (Registered Charity Number: 1157381) has been supporting low-income countries by connecting with Sheffield-based organisations.
Sheffield organisations working with these countries also share learning and experience with each other.
Residents of Sheffield benefit from these partnerships, drawing lessons from the wider experience of issues, perspectives and even small triumphs in other parts of the planet.
The VISION of SHIP is to see productive and sustainable health partnerships between the Sheffield area and low-income countries.
The MISSION of SHIP is to facilitate changes beneficial to the health of people in the partnership countries.
The AIMS of SHIP, which form the basis of our STRATEGIC PLAN are as follows:
- To engage the partnership communities on an equitable basis through identification of opportunities and careful planning of health programmes and actions.
- To promote cross-cultural experience and learning of health and health care by enabling staff from each end of the partnerships to observe alternative health practice
- To increase awareness and understanding of programme activities and their health and other impacts more widely in the Sheffield partnership communities
- To enhance morale and resilience of health staff by providing inspiration and encouragement from cross-cultural experience
- To see innovations evaluated and revised as necessary, working towards improved health and/or health care at personal and/or community level.
- Expand development of effective programmes and interventions, building on experience and track record
- Expand resources to enable ambitious fulfilment of the above aims
The organisation is based on a Board with a small core of potentially 7 – 12 Trustees, and a number of associate members. The function and governance follows Charity Commission guidance, and these are managed in as informal and friendly manner as is appropriate to the important business in hand.
Focus of practical action
Since its inception SHIP has been practically engaged with health and welfare engagement with a number of partnerships within Uganda, and this has continued to be a major element of the work. Currently the main SHIP partnership is with Gulu in northern Uganda, working together particularly on mental health and associated issues. The Gulu-Sheffield Mental Health Partnership (GSMHP) involves partners in both Uganda and the UK.
In Uganda this involves the Gulu Regional Referral Hospital (GRRH) and in particular the Mental Health Ward, the Gulu District Health Office, and Gulu University; and in the UK the Sheffield Health and Social Care (SHSC) NHS Foundation Trust and Sheffield University School of Health and Related Research who provide Monitoring and Evaluation.
GSMHP has a patient safety focus and works with GRRH providing training and supporting staff and the District Health Office in working with the wider community. The achievements of GSMHP, supported by SHIP, include:
- £10,000 grant from the Burdett Trust for Nursing to SHIP, to fund Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Covid, training health staff and village health teams, who are volunteers in communities.
- Suicide Prevention training to 750 staff in Health Centres and 200 Community Leaders in the Districts of Gulu & Omorro. This work was concluded by training senior political and cultural leaders.
- RESPECT courses (the ethical management of violence and aggression). Its impact was evaluated by Sheffield University with two academic papers published as a result. A team of Gulu RESPECT Instructors was trained and the whole of GRRH staff attended a four-day course.
- Hosted 28 Ugandan colleagues over 12 years in Sheffield through the Commonwealth Fellowship Programme, funded through the British Council.
- The provision of a Community Centre in Guna, Abwoch. This is a remote rural community that did not have its own community building. Mental health need is high in this village but it has a very strong sense of community. The building was given to the community in November 2018 and provides a training venue and is also a possible source of income generation. The building was entirely resourced by donations from SHIP, their families and friends.
- A completely renovated attendants’ kitchen with low carbon cooking stoves has been provided to enable attendants/carers to provide and cook food for the loved ones, as the hospital is not able to provide food.
- Enabling the installation of taps in the carers’ cooking area and two rain harvesters in the mental health unit to collect rain in the rainy season; and a bore hole was repaired within the hospital which now serves the mental health unit and other inpatient areas in the hospital with water.
- The creation of a Medical Library and Resource Centre at GRRH, also supported by Book Aid International and Sheffield Hallam University.
- Developing a dedicated space in the mental health unit to create a children’s ward. This is in recognition of the need to provide differently for children and adults who were previously together and represents a significant improvement in patient safety.
- Regular communication with the Ministry of Health in Uganda and the Uganda UK Health Alliance to ensure SHIP and the GSMHP work with Ugandan priorities.
An important part of the SHIP role is seen as capitalising on the rich of experience of the overseas work. This can bring home the often harsh realities of life in environments less privileged than ours. But also the often amazing strengths, resilience and achievements of communities and individuals to which our connections can make us aware.
Our SHIP Trustees and associates who have themselves worked in low-income countries, and also those of us benefiting from contact with partners in exchange programmes, have been able to positively reappraise our own situations and actions accordingly. We would want to widen the impacts of this part of our partnerships to others we reach out to in Sheffield.
Although the impact and restrictions of the Covid epidemic disrupted the progress we would like to make in this regard, it has now been re-established as a main thrust of the SHIP workplan. Initially we are reaching out to other organisations and individuals in the city to strengthen a network. SHIP is offering to provide a hub to help connections and recently ran a small conference of local organisations to share experience and begin to refresh earlier discussion about how we might work more together. Further conferencing is being planned. A WhatsApp Group has been established, and our website is currently being reworked to improve operability and connectivity.