First Language project in Manchester

By Sophie Pathmanathan

Manchester is a multicultural community with people from around the world speaking a range of languages. Although the cultural diversity brings a range of benefits, a gap can form between these communities and health institutions due to language barriers and cultural differences. The significance of Oral Health is underrated and many people do not appreciate the importance of it until too late.

The first language project aims to identify and gather groups of dental students with dual or multi language skills and connect them with appropriate communities through community- school visits. This project aims to educate our community; with oral health instruction being provided in a range of languages, and to support our community in other aspects such as education.

The Tamil School Pilot study: an initial visit was made to the Tamil school.

The following “programmes” were organised in the Tamil school:

• A dental stall at the Tamil School’s Sports day offering OHI advise and general dental advice: we provided education games on diet and oral health, we gave out toothpaste and toothbrush samples to show the correct methods and gave parents leaflets on how to look after children’s teeth. Some parents did not speak English and had questions about their own oral health in which Tamil speaking students were able to communicate with them and point them in the direction of where to seek help.

• Mentorship of A- Level students for university application: students had no guidances with regards to applying for competitive courses like Medicine and Dentistry so we were able to mentor students and provide them support.

• Organised a school play highlighting the importance of OH- translated into Tamil and English: teaching student about the importance of OHI and practice a play demonstrating the importance of OHI narrated in Tamil and English, allowing them to educate themselves and others. The play was performed in both Tamil and English so that parents who did not understand English were also able to learn about OHI.

• Dr Raj gave an oral cancer awareness presentation: School to provide a presentation about the importance of oral cancer awareness and key signs and symptoms of which to be aware.

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