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This guide contains information about living in Torbay.

The government has produced a guide for Ukrainians arriving in the UK which has information about:

  • Benefits
  • Opening a bank account
  • Finding a job and paying taxes
  • Emergency services and what to do if you’re in trouble

The government guide is available in English, Ukrainian and Russian.

If you haven’t started work or are not starting for a couple of weeks, please claim Universal Credit as soon as possible.

A little bit about Torbay

You are living in a beautiful part of England! Known as the English Riviera, Torbay has 22 miles of unspoilt coastline.

Torbay is actually three towns made up of Torquay, Paignton and Brixham and centred around Tor Bay.

The area is home to around 130,000 people but this number increases during the summer months when visitors arrive in the Bay.

Torbay Council

Torbay Council is the local council that delivers many services in Torbay. Some of the services we provide that you may use include:

  • Help arranging your accommodation and making sure it meets your needs
  • Childcare and education
  • Libraries
  • Leisure Centres

We want to ensure that you fully integrate into our communities as you start to rebuild your lives.

For further information, please email us: RefugeeSupport@torbay.gov.uk or visit our website

As a Ukrainian national, you are not entitled to vote in any elections or referendums in the UK due to your nationality. However, you can contact your local councillor.

He or she is an elected individual who provides community leadership and engagement for local services, representing the area for which they are elected.

To contact your local councillor call 01803 207 087.

If you have any questions about the electoral register, please email electoral.registration@torbay.gov.ukor phone 01803 208 008.​

Accessing Healthcare in Torbay

Healthcare in the UK is provided by the National Health Service, known as the NHS. It is free for most services.
Please refer to the leaflet, How the NHS Works which is also available in Ukrainian Як працює Національна служба здоров'я (НСЗ). We have summarised here also.

You can access the following services for free:

  • Family doctors, called General Practitioners (GPs)
  • Hospitals
  • Maternity services
  • Mental Health services

The NHS helps those who need medical treatment. They can also help with lots of other things, including:

  • Contraception
  • Sexual Health
  • Healthy eating

What is my GP?

Your ‘GP’ is a doctor and your main point of contact at the NHS. ‘GP’ stands for General Practitioner. They are also known as family doctors.

How to register with a doctor

Registering with a GP is very important, and you should do this as soon as you can. To see a doctor, you need to register with a practice. A doctor's practice is usually a clinic or medical facility.

You are advised to register with the same practise as your host family, if possible. Please ask your host for the name of the practice where they are registered.

If this is not possible, to find your nearest practice, use this link: Find a GP - NHS (www.nhs.uk). You will need to know the postcode of the address where you are staying.

Once you have found your local GP's details, you need to contact them. They will help you to register.

They will ask for personal details. This includes your name, your date of birth, and your phone number. They may also ask to see proof of your identity and proof of your address. If you do not have either of these, they cannot refuse to register you.

If you are having problems registering with a GP, please email refugeesupport@torbay.gov.uk.

How to book an appointment with a doctor or nurse

To see a GP or nurse, you need to book an appointment. You can do this by ringing your practice.

You can ask to see a male or female GP or nurse and your GP surgery will do their best to arrange this. Your surgery may offer you a telephone appointment initially.

You may have to wait a few days for a non-urgent appointment.

If you think you need to speak to the doctor urgently, tell the receptionist that you need an emergency appointment. They will try to see you that day. If the GP thinks you are too ill to come to the surgery, they may visit you at home.

How to book an interpreter for your appointment

If you need an interpreter, you must tell the receptionist when you make the appointment. Tell the staff which language you speak, and they will book an interpreter for you or get an interpreter on the phone.

It is important that you and the doctor understand each other so that they can make an accurate diagnosis of your problem.

You will not be charged if you require an interpreter.

Everything discussed in the consultation is confidential including anything discussed in the presence of an interpreter.

What to do if your GP surgery is closed

If your GP surgery is closed and it is not an emergency, for example a minor illness or injury (cuts, sprains, or rashes), you can visit a walk-in centre, minor injuries unit or urgent care centre.

Find Walk-in centre services

Accessing medication from the pharmacy

You can buy some medicines from the pharmacy without a prescription including some painkillers and cough medicines. You will have to pay for these medicines.

If you take regular medication that requires a prescription, you should discuss this with your GP as soon as you can. Your GP will write a prescription for medicines they think you need to take.

Take your prescription to the pharmacy or chemist. If you are receiving Universal Credit, you will not need to pay for your medication. You should present your Universal Credit award notice to prove your entitlement.

If you are waiting for your Universal Credit to be processed, you will need to pay for your medication, but you can be refunded the money later. Make sure you ask for and keep receipts. If you pay for a prescription, you must get a receipt and refund form (FP57) at the time you pay, as you will not be able to get one later.

The pharmacist can also give free advice on treating minor health problems, such as colds and coughs.

Find a pharmacy

Help with your Mental Health

We understand that this is a very challenging time for you and that your experiences may contribute to psychological distress. It is very important that you access mental health support if you need to.

There are many places you can get help with your mental health including:

  • Your doctor – GPs are skilled at supporting people who need help with their mental health and can prescribe medicines if you both feel this would help, referring you to other support services if necessary.
  • Talkworks- Torbay is a team of qualified psychological professionals offering talking therapies and interventions to people over 18. You can self-refer into the service by visiting their website or call 0300 555 3344
  • Samaritans is a free 24 hour service that offers help to people who are struggling to cope and who need someone to listen without judgement. 
Mental health support for children and young people

It’s important children and young people access support with their mental health when they need to. There are many options for children and young people to access help with their mental health including:

  • Your doctor – GPs are skilled at supporting children and young people with their mental health, and can refer to other agencies as necessary including the Torbay Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service.
  • Schools and Colleges – teachers and support staff are skilled at supporting children and young people with their mental health. Additional training and support have been put in place across schools in Torbay to specifically support children and young people arriving in the UK from the Ukraine.
  • Young Minds is an online organisation supporting both young people and those wanting to support young people with their mental health

Support while you are pregnant

If you are pregnant, there are services you can attend for support. When you register with a GP, they will be able to advise you and put you in touch with a midwife. They will be able to offer you courses and support groups.

Eyesight Healthcare

If you need help with your eyesight, you should make an appointment with an Opticians. This can be near to where you live.

You will be entitled to free NHS eye tests and optical vouchers if you are not in employment. You should present your Universal Credit award notice to prove your entitlement.

If you have not received your Universal Credit yet, explain to the optician that you are still waiting for your Universal Credit award, and they will help you.

Oral health

If you need to see a dentist (a doctor who specialises in oral health) you will need to register. Find a dentist.

If you need to see a dentist urgently, call a dentist near you as they may have emergency appointments. If they don’t have emergency appointments, they may be able to support you find a surgery who may be able to help. To access a dentist out of hours, call a dentist, they may have a voicemail message. If not, call 111.

You will have to pay for your dentist treatment. An urgent dental treatment will cost £23.80. If you’re entitled to free NHS dental care, you should be able to claim back the cost of any treatment. You must keep your receipts.

Non-emergency medical help that cannot wait

You can get medical help for problems that cannot wait by calling the NHS non-emergency number, 111. This is a free service operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

You can also go online www.111.nhs.uk (for assessment of people aged 5 and over only).

You will be asked for some details, such as your name and address. If you do not speak English, you will need to either request an interpreter in English at the beginning of the call or ask a friend or relative to make the call for you to ask for an interpreter.

If your injury is not serious but does need attention, it’s usually better to visit a local Minor Injuries Unit (MIU). MIUs provide treatment for less serious injuries. Many people can be treated more quickly in a MIU compared to the Emergency Department (A&E). You do not need an appointment.

Your local MIU department is Newton Abbot Community Hospital.

Emergency medical help

You can call 999 (free phone) in an emergency for these services:

  • Ambulance
  • Fire
  • Police

If you or a family member has an accident or a sudden serious illness you should go to your nearest hospital with an A&E department which is free for everyone.

Your local Accident & Emergency hospital is Torbay Hospital.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Many people in Torbay and the UK are still catching coronavirus. Help us to stop people from getting sick by following the below health advice.

  • Get vaccinated
  • Meet people outside when you can
  • Open a window if you meet people indoors
  • Wear a face covering in crowded and indoor spaces
  • Stay at home if you are unwell
  • Wash your hands regularly with soap
Coronavirus vaccination

You are eligible for a free COVID-19 vaccination through the NHS. You do not have to pay.

Book or manage a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination appointment

Childcare

Some children aged two can have 15 hours free early learning a week at a day nursery, preschool, playgroup or with a childminder.

This supports them with the early stages of their development and to gain confidence for when they start school. Check whether your child is eligible.

Our Early Years Team can support you to find a suitable nursery place for your child, based on where you’re living.

The Team will be able to provide contact details of the nursery so that you can organise a visit. 

Early Years team:

Education

Education for children is free and compulsory.

Children must be in education from five years to 16 years and individuals aged 16 to 18 must be in either full-time education or work (with an educational part).

Apply for a school place for your child.

Before making an application, all parents are advised to read our TIPS booklet which has a step-by-step guide and will help you understand how the process works. 

School Admissions Team:

Post 16 Education

South Devon College offers a range of full and part time courses for people aged 16 and over in various subjects.

Libraries

It’s free to join a library. As well as borrowing books and magazines, you can also use their computers and print out documents. Many libraries run events too.

Places of worship

Transport

There are lots of bus and rail operators in and around Torbay. You can also buy passes and railcards for regular and discounted travel.

Leisure

Torbay is blessed with some beautiful beaches and there are plenty of other parks, sports pitches and outdoor spaces to get some fresh air and keep fit, to find out more visit our Leisure and sports pages.

Post Offices

You can buy stamps and send letters and parcels at a post office. You can also do your banking there.

Family activities

The Torbay Holidays and Activities Food programme makes sure children have food and activities over the school holidays.

The Family Information Service provides information for families and people working with them in Torbay.

You can discover details of childcare, local events, school holiday activities, leisure and sports clubs, support and much more.

Our events page is regularly updated with events happening around Torbay which you may be interested in attending.

Other useful information

Torbay Community Development Trust: works across the Bay supporting community and voluntary sector activity. It supports people to link up with others in their community through a network of neighbourhood-based Community Builders. Call 01803 212638 or emailinfo@torbaycdt.org.uk.

Torbay Community Helpline: This is open to people in Torbay to request help on any issue. One call, that’s all: 01803 446022. Lines are open 10am to 6pm Monday to Friday and 11:30am to 12:30pm on Saturdays.