BLOG: Find out more about Flourish this Refugee Week 2024

NewsUpdated: 18 June 2024Community and living

Jay Williams, the Community Liaison Officer for Three Rivers District Council, meets Paul Warwick - Services Manager Complex Needs & Community for local mental health project Flourish.

In the latest instalment of my blog series, I’m focusing on one of the most prominent parts of my role - supporting the refugee/asylum seekers settled have within the district.

As we recognise Refugee Awareness Week it is vital to explore the theme of mental health within this community. One of local charities who are on the front line of support is Flourish - a dedicated arm of Herts Mind Network, which is supporting the needs of this cohort. Read my Q&A with Paul Warwick - Services Manager Complex Needs & Community for Flourish below:

For someone that has never heard of Flourish, how would you describe the service & the type of support involved?

Flourish provides practical and emotional support for refugees and asylum seekers aged 16 and above across Hertfordshire. We offer up to 10 sessions to support individuals with all mental health difficulties and investigate what might be contributing towards their mental health practically.  Our approach involves developing a tailored package of support that meets the clients needs, working with them to find the solutions that are right for you. Alongside the mental health support provision we also offer assistance with housing, benefits, asylum claims, sign posting and getting a back route referral into Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (HPFT).

How can service users access these services (self-referral, professional referral, etc.)?

The service can be accessed through our website ( , calling our main office line on 0203 727 3600 or sending a referral form to our inbox:

Does the service take into account cultural backgrounds and sensitivities when providing support?

Flourish is very sensitive and aware when it comes to different cultural backgrounds when providing support. We provide tailored support that is led by the client, ensuring each service user is given the option of a male or female worker, using translators whom we hold in the highest degree and by placing our referral forms in multiple different languages. We are also currently running events for young refugees and asylum seekers, with the most recent coming off as a huge success. This took place in Hemel Hempstead in the Young Person’s centre. We will be hosting more events in the near future.

Why is this service needed?

The service is needed to provide support to those who are fleeing to the UK, there is a big stigma around asylum seekers and refugees and additionally mental health and wellbeing in different cultures. A lot of individuals fleeing are not familiar with their rights or the understanding that they may be struggling with their mental health. It is important every individual in Hertfordshire is given a voice and this is definitely reflected at Flourish. We advocate on behalf of our service users to give them an equal quality of life where possible.

What are some of the challenges refugee’s experience when first arrive?

The life of many of the refugees and asylum seekers who present to our service has been unpredictable up until this point with circumstances often changing very rapidly. Some of challenges include understanding the housing situation, what their rights are, how long they will be in temporary accommodation such as a hotel or guest house, how to culturally integrate into the UK whilst attempting to maintain their cultural beliefs and identities. There is always the sense of stigma and racism around refugees and asylum seekers which must be noted as an added challenge experienced by many.

What is one thing people can do to support refugees in their transition?

It would be supportive for people to be open minded, to understand that not everything in the media is a reflection of truth, that there are many vulnerable asylum seekers and refugees who are just attempting to survive. Many of our service users have fled their countries due to torture, persecution, abuse, war, political power struggles and other extreme examples.

I also feel it is appropriate for people to imagine themselves, their families and children and question at what lengths they would go to, to survive and protect their loved ones. A lot of these individuals have experienced extreme trauma and are feeling the effects of that to this day with PTSD and other mental health difficulties presenting as low mood, depression and severe anxiety, leading to many being afraid to leave any of their accommodations on a daily basis.

PHOTO CAPTION: Paul Warwick, Services Manager Complex Needs & Community, (in the centre, standing) pictured with the team at Flourish