2016 UWE June Lancaster Award in Health and Life Sciences: Gila Hale in Sri Lanka
Gila Hale arranged, at very short notice, a placement in Sri Lanka at MENCAFEP, a centre for children with learning disabilities, offering educational and vocational training opportunities and a range of services including physiotherapy and speech therapy. Observing and working with a number of staff at the Centre including the outreach team, she obtained valuable experience into the challenges these children and their carers’ experience in Sri Lanka. She was able to compare the services in Sri Lanka with her own UK experience, recognising their benefits and limitations. Gila also found that a significant level of stigma is still attached to having a learning disability in Sri Lanka. She found the overall experience a rewarding one and acknowledges that her learning was transferable to her practice in the UK, in particular that relating to cultural sensitivity in health and social care and the need for addressing stigma concerning learning disability.