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2nd Medical Student Placements Cardiff: March 2016, Butetown, Riverside and Grangetown.

17 May 2016

Blog By Dr Martin O’Neill

The second placement of second year medical students from Cardiff University through SCHeP took place in March 2016.  This placement took place in the Butetown, Riverside and Grangetown areas of Cardiff.  The focus of this placement was slightly different that the first student placement cohort held in Noth Merthyr Tdfil in November 2015  in as much as students were asked to concentrate on socially and physically mapping the community to explore how the local population understand their community and how they access the different health service provisions that are available locally. The students were told about the importance to community health of community mapping and given the example of the work of John Snow and the Broad St Cholera outbreak

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The Original Map From John Snow’s Study of the Broad St Cholera Outbreak


The communities of Butetown, Riverside and Grangetown (BRG) provided the students with a very different setting than that provided in Merthyr Tydfil.  For example contained within these neighbourhoods are the most ethnically diverse in the whole of Wales. This ethnic diversity area has some of the longest established ethnic communities in Britain, such as the Somali community in Butetown which was established in the 19th Century,right through to some of the recently arrived asylum seekers who are settled in Grangetown and Riverside.

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THE Skyline of the BRG Area of Cardiff


Following the model developed in the previous student placement session the placement took the format of initially introducing the students to the concept of community mapping and of qualitative and participatory research methods this was then followed by a walking transect around the community led by a community development worker with many year’s experience of working in the community. This transect walk consisted of showing the students key features and landmarks of the community and putting it into historical and social context.

The second day of the placement consisted of taking the students to a visit to the Annual Cardiff and Vale Minority Ethnic Communities Health Fair.  This enabled the students to meet with many of the agencies that work in these communities and representatives from many of the communities that are established in the area.  The students used this as an opportunity to conduct interviews and collect representative quotes to help illustrate the issues that they were beginning to interviews as some of the keys topics impacting on the community.

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A picture created by local school children, displayed at the BME Health Fayre to illustrate the research they had done into a healthy diet

The next day and a half was spent working with the students to concretely map the communities and the issues identified in such a way as that the findings could be fed back in to the community in a way that was accessible to community members.  During the course of their research the students had picked up that the local houses were stone built with stones of many different colours that had been brought to Cardiff as ballast in ships from all over the world.  They identified this as a useful analogy to convey their analysis as multi coloured and multiethnic but bound together by the sense of community.

A Community Map with Photographs to Illustrate Particular Points of Interest that was Produced by the Students

 The students identified that although BRG was a community which was very close to the city centre it was very much in marked contrast to the affluence that is often quite obvious in an around the city centre.  From the interviews that they conducted with local residents they found that this proximity to affluence compounded feelings of exclusion and poverty for the local community. The students identified themselves that although they had been residents in the city for over a year prior to this placement it was not an area of the city they had ventured in to or were familiar with.

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In their presentation to the local community the students concluded that due to its position close to the city centre and in the capital city of Wales there appeared to be quite sufficient provision of service but that the challenge to healthcare provision and service providers in this area was connecting and engaging with certain sections of the community that was all bound up cultural and language issues.