A former nursing student at the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (CONEL) has launched a project providing free health checks to disadvantaged communities.
Mek Mehmet-Yesil, 48, set up Health Screen UK with Erim Metto, CEO of the Turkish Cypriot Community Association where she has been the secretary since 2011.
Four other ex-students from CONEL – Ryannah Benjamin, Shanique Smith, Camilla Crockett and Maris Onuigbo – helped establish the project, funded by the National Lottery and Care Quality Commission (CQC).
Health checks are carried out at the project’s premises in Green Lanes, Stoke Newington, and patients’ homes, community centres, schools and care homes.
The check includes a full medical assessment including measurement of height, weight, body mass index and blood pressure and a blood test. It also looks at cholesterol and hydration levels, posture, diet and fitness.
“While studying at CONEL I noticed that many people being diagnosed with life threating conditions were from less advantaged communities, so I teamed up with a group of friends in healthcare to form Health Screen UK,” said Mek.
“We wanted to support the screening of people within their communities so they would feel at ease, and successfully secured funding from the National Lottery and CQC last year and the rest is history.”
The project comprises six trustees and eight clinicians and works closely with the NHS Choices, Health Diagnostics, Council of Turkish Cypriot Associations (UK) and Turkish Women’s Philanthropic Association.
Mek said: “Over the past 10 years or so there has been a growing number of patients at our local GP practices and hospitals. This has put an enormous amount of pressure on NHS staff and resources.
“Language barriers and pre-existing conditions along with an ageing demographic have all added to the burden, which is why I felt so passionately about providing this service.”
Mek studied an Access to Higher Education Diploma in Nursing at CONEL to update her skills with a view to studying a degree in nursing, but has put this on hold after becoming a grandmother.
She previously gained a BSc Physiology and Anatomy from Angela Ruskin University and is currently studying for a PhD in clinical psychology with the University of Liverpool.
Mek works as a volunteer in A&E at North Middlesex University Hospital having spent seven years as a volunteer paramedic with London Ambulance Service. She also volunteers for the Metropolitan Police, and was honoured by the force last year for two years’ service.
Mek is set to return to CONEL to talk about her business and share her experiences of working in the healthcare sector with the current cohort of students later this year.