Supporting Local Health Systems to Optimise Immunisation Delivery

May 2022

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How we supported the Royal Society of Public Health to develop resources for local immunisation teams

The COVID-19 vaccination rollout saw significant collaboration across sectors and through engagement with local communities.

Joint working between the NHS and local government has been a hallmark of success for the COVID-19 vaccination programme. Given this, there is a lot we can learn about this success and considerations we can make for other vaccination programmes.

MSD has sponsored a project with the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) to recognise the role of local government in the deployment of the COVID-19 vaccination programme and to consider how they could play a larger role in improving all routine immunisations in the future.

The Assuring and Improving Immunisation Services Digital Toolkit[i] provides a series of resources for leaders in local health systems (Directors of Public Health, commissioners, immunisation leads etc.) to improve immunisation overall coverage in their area and reduce inequalities in access and uptake.

This has been informed by two in-depth workshops with local leaders in Birmingham and Cheshire along with several 1-1 interviews with public health leaders. Whatever their role within the system, the toolkit recommends to:

  • Work collaboratively and transparently as a system, bringing together primary and secondary healthcare, social care, public health, health visitors, and the VCSE sectors
  • Begin by collating recent data and intelligence on local vaccination coverage rates, and using this to identify areas for further investigation and action.
  • Share data and intelligence across the system, continuing the precedent initiated by COVID-19
  • Engage with the local community to build public understanding of, and confidence in vaccinations
  • Proactively support underserved groups and those who experience health inequities to access vaccination

To find out more about our work with RSPH and the Local Immunisation Toolkit, please contact Vaccines Policy & Communications team member, Shannon Lacombe at:  

[1] Royal Society for Public Health: The Assuring and Improving Immunisation Services Toolkit, last accessed April 2022

GB-NON-05815 | Date of Preparation April 2022


Mumma Kits – All Packed Up and Ready To Go!

May 2022

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Mumma Kits for vulnerable mums and babies in the UK

MSD for Mothers is MSD’s global initiative to help create a world where no woman has to die while giving life. Applying MSD’s business expertise, scientific expertise and financial resources, we are working across sectors to improve the health and well-being of women during pregnancy, childbirth and the months after.

Earlier this month our UK ambassadors helped to support this mission by packaging 40 mumma kits to be sent to vulnerable mums and babies in the UK via the White Ribbon Alliance, a charity driven by a vision and goal to ensure that pregnancy and childbirth are safe for all women.

Some of the items of baby care essentials in the kits including nappies, sanitary products and muslin cloths were donated by MSD in the UK employees, their friends and families through an internal donation appeal last autumn.

The kits were then assembled before being shipped to the White Ribbon Alliance, before being distributed to mothers and babies.

Last year MSD in the UK colleagues and their friends and families also knitted hundreds of items of baby clothing which were shipped to Africa.

MSD for Mothers UK Ambassador, Emma Prosser said: “The MSD for Mothers project means so much to all of us, knowing we are helping to make that difference somewhere in the world- (no matter how big or small), and the UK is no exception. The generosity and kindness of our colleagues and their friends and families here in the UK is what helps us all ensure we can continue with our work. We are delighted to have been able to donate these kits which will make such a positive impact on the lives of the mothers and babies in the UK who receive them.”

“As MSD for Mothers Ambassadors, we are always looking at new ways of how we can make a difference and ensure the work we do today continues to leave a positive legacy for tomorrow. We are all immensely proud to be part of this project which is helping to solve a global health challenge – which to date has supported 18.2 million women with healthier pregnancies and safer deliveries – and our work does not stop here.”

For more information about the programme visit: MSD for Mothers

GB-NON-05822 | Date of Preparation April 2022


Raising awareness of Lung Cancer symptoms

May 2022

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During 2020-21 MSD helped bring a message of lung cancer awareness to 45 million people working in partnership with 8 NHS Cancer Alliances and 5 national patient and professional organisations.

The campaign helped support an increase in referrals in some of the areas of country hardest hit by the pandemic and was built with the advice and local dissemination of local organisations working in those communities. The evaluation report for MSD’s ‘Do It For Yourself’ lung cancer campaign is now available.

To download a copy of the report click here:

A ‘campaign-in-a-box’ version of ‘Do It For Yourself’ with leaflets, posters, videos and the advertising formats of the campaign is now available and MSD is making the digital and printed materials available free of charge to NHS organisations and clinicians who want to raise lung cancer awareness in their local area.

To order materials free of charge, register at the MSD Oncology patient information website and open the Do It For Yourself campaign to see what is available:

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a widespread impact on the healthcare system. One of these has been a dramatic downturn in the numbers of people who have stepped forward to have their symptoms of possible lung cancer checked and detected. In 2020, MSD set out to explore the behavioural drivers that might stop some people with symptoms of lung cancer coming forward to seek further health advice, at the same time as NHS and cancer organisations started seeing this alarming decline. It was this dynamic which led to this campaign.

Among the findings of the campaign evaluation report are:

  • Ways of working that helped NHS organisations to learn from each other and maintain the lung cancer community at a time of extreme stress to the healthcare system
  • How a coalition of public and private organisations can work effectively together on cancer awareness campaigning
  • Cases studies of how advertising and communications can be linked to local knowledge and community assets to improve targeting and impact of campaigns

MSD is grateful to its partners in producing this campaign.

  • Cheshire & Merseyside Cancer Alliance
  • Greater Manchester Cancer
  • Lancashire & South Cumbria Cancer Alliance
  • Northern Cancer Alliance
  • Peninsula Cancer Alliance
  • RM Partners Cancer Alliance
  • South East London Cancer Alliance
  • South Yorkshire & Bassetlaw Cancer Alliance
  • West Yorkshire & Harrogate Cancer Alliance       
  • Lung Cancer Nursing UK
  • Macmillan Cancer Support
  • Mesothelioma UK          
  • Primary Care Respiratory Society
  • Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation
  • UK Lung Cancer Coalition
  • Yorkshire Cancer Research

GB-NON-05765 | Date of Preparation March 2022

Our People

Equal & Fair Opportunity – Recognition for Early Talent Initiatives

May 2022

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At MSD we are proud of the early talent initiatives we have been driving and are delighted to have been recognised and shortlisted for the second year running for ‘Best Social Mobility Strategy Award’ in the UK National Graduate Recruitment awards by TARGETjobs.

As an organisation, social economic diversity is a key focus for us, which is why it is a core part of our organisation-wide 2022 People Strategy.  Our goal is to offer everyone a fair opportunity to fulfil their potential at MSD, irrespective of their background. 

In the context of student recruitment, we recognise that testing and access to opportunity can narrow candidate evaluation and selection and is heavily influenced by a student’s inherited social economic status; instead, we hire our students based on potential and from all walks of life, recognising that widening participation across our whole organisation brings new ideas and perspectives, allowing us to better understand and reflect the diversity and needs of the patients we aim to serve.

Through a wide range of strategies, many of them already firmly embedded, we are pushing the boundaries. The introduction of CV blinding, removal of all grade requirements, implementation of context recruitment tools via our partnership with UpReach, as well as our partnership with more inclusive universities are just some of our interventions. Last year we launched several new programmes and initiatives which included our inaugural UK apprenticeship programme with the aim to widen participation and support local talent who could not or chose not to attend university. From what we have seen so far, we are already making a difference, and there is always more we can do.  

We have been working hard – and will continue to do so – to ensure anyone who’s interested in joining us has an equal and fair opportunity.

To find out more about Early Talent careers at MSD in the UK, click here.

GB-NON-05762 | Date of Preparation March 2022


MSD & the fight against Hepatitis C

May 2022

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How we are partnering with the NHS to deliver hepatitis C elimination

If you are wondering how a pharmaceutical company like MSD is involved in a world leading initiative to find, test and treat people at risk of hepatitis C, then read on…

MSD is so proud to be part of the NHS Elimination programme which is a first of its kind programme,  involving a close collaboration between NHS England and Improvement, the Hepatitis C Trust, Operational Delivery Networks (ODNs), the pharmaceutical industry (Abbvie, Gilead and MSD), Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS), the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSE) and Public Health England (PHE).

Chronic hepatits C infection, caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV), is thought to affect over 80,000 people in England.1 Symptoms can take years to develop and as a result, many people don’t know they have been infected.1 If left untreated, HCV can lead to serious health problems including cirrhosis (scarring of the liver), liver failure and liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma, HCC).1 This not only places a heavy burden on the individual, but on the NHS and the economy. 2,3

In 2016, the UK Government signed up to the World Health Organisation (WHO) Global Health Sector Strategy (GHSS) on Viral Hepatitis which commits participating countries to the elimination of (HCV) as a major public health threat by 2030.1 NHSEngland is working to surpass the WHO target through a number of initiatives including a unique and innovative partnership1 – The Hepatitis C Elimination Programme.

In this unique programme, a series of ‘elimination initiatives’ are being provided by the NHS and industry, which aim to identify potential patients, test for infection and offer treatment to everyone who needs it. Working with 24 Operational Delivery networks, which were set up across England help manage hepatitis C services at a local level, MSD is supporting elimination through four elimination initiatives:

Point of Care Testing (POCT): In partnership with Cepheid, we are rolling out Cepheid rapid HCV RNA testing equipment to prisons, community projects and outreach services. Delivering rapid finger-prick testing that delivers results in 1 hour.

Patient Search Identification (PSI): A case-finding tool which searches for coded HCV risk factors in patient records in primary care settings to identify potentially at-risk patients that should be reviewed and, if appropriate, tested.

Peer-to-Peer Support (P2P): Through partnership with the Hepatitis C Trust (THCT), we are providing a network of peer volunteers with lived experience of HCV to provide education, encouragement and support directly to patients throughout the treatment and care journey. Through this partnership with THCT we are also working to develop a model that is built within and led by the local community, to reach south Asian communities who, whilst having a higher prevalence of HCV infection than the general population, have often been excluded from receiving culturally relevant information and interventions. 

Community Liaison Officers (CLO): Community Liaison Officers work with the operational delivery network clinical teams to align and coordinate hepatitis C services and provide outreach to patients attending clinics, as well as working in homeless hostels, night shelters and drug treatment centres.

To speak to a member of the team, please contact Elimination Programme Lead, Kuldip Sembhi at:  

1 UKHSA Hepatitis C in England 2022 Report: Working to eliminate hepatitis C as a public health problem Available at: Last Accessed: March 2022

2 Singh J, Longworth L, Estimating The Cost Of Liver Transplantation In Patients Diagnosed With Chronic Hepatitis C And B In The UK, 2014. Available online via:  Last accessed November 2019

3 Wright M, Grieve R, Roberts J, Main J, Thomas HC, Alexander G, et al., Health benefits of antiviral therapy for mild chronic hepatitis C: Randomized controlled trial and economic evaluation.  Health Technology Assessment.  2006:10

GB-NON-05665 | Date of Preparation March 2022


Smashing Stereotypes for British Science Week

May 2022

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Here at MSD in the UK we are committed to diversity, and this British Science Week, we have partnered with the British Science Association (BSA) in support of their ‘Smashing Stereotypes’ campaign.

To showcase the broad range of careers available within science and the diversity of the people who work in this exciting field, the campaign is comprised of case studies of different Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) employees and researchers, each detailing an individual’s day-to-day work and wider career journeys. Through amplifying the diversity of people and roles in STEM careers, the initiative aims to dispel myths surrounding the industry, and highlight to the next generation that careers in STEM are accessible to everybody, regardless of their background.

In support of the campaign, Executive Director Dr. Jill Richardson said: “At MSD, we believe we are all are inventors, regardless of our role or title. We have a very diverse group of scientists with the utmost passion and drive to find new approaches for the most devastating diseases. We believe it is only by integrating different views and ideas that we will deliver truly transformative medicines. By supporting the ‘Smashing Stereotypes’ campaign, we’re looking forward to showcasing this diversity, which we hope will spark change in perceptions of the people and careers within STEM.”

The campaign features the stories of two of our scientists at MSD in the UK:

Harshnira Patani – Senior Scientist in Drug Discovery

Today Harshnira works as a pharmacologist in our Discovery Chemistry team, but a lack of guidance meant that the road to into lab research wasn’t initially clear. That all changed when she met a research scientist at a careers convention and discovered the wide range of career options available within STEM. A firm believer that science is accessible for everyone, Harshnira said “Growing up in Kenya, I was surrounded by poverty and disease, and that experience has driven me to want to spend my life helping the world by solving some of its problems. I am proof that it doesn’t matter where you’re from, anyone can become a scientist.”

Read more about Harshnira’s career in lab research here.

Vinita Jagannath – Senior Research Scientist of Cell Biology

After obtaining her medical degree in India, Vinita moved to Europe to pursue a career in neuroscience, Vinita now works as a Senior Research Scientist, leading research projects with the aim of discovering new medicines for the treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders. On what ‘smashing stereotypes’ means to her, Vinita said “I had no role models from my medical school who pursued neuroscience as a career, so as a medical doctor and a woman from India, I’ve had to pave my own path. I would encourage others to follow a less well-trodden path.”.

Read more about Vinita’s journey into neuroscience here.

Vinita and Harshnira’s stories show that there is so much more to science than the stereotypes that often surround it. MSD remains committed to doing all we can to continuing to ‘smash’ these stereotypes, both during British Science Week and beyond. 

GB-NON-05703 | Date of Preparation: March 2022

Our People

Meet Ben, our new Managing Director

May 2022

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Ben Lucas was appointed MD of MSD in the UK and Ireland earlier this year and started his new role on February 1st. Prior to taking up his new position, Ben had been MD of MSD in the Netherlands for three years.

Ben is married, with five daughters. His interests (aside from parenting) include rugby, football, cycling, golf, most spectator sports, and country walks.

Learn more about what gets Ben out of the bed in the morning, his aspirations for MSD in the UK and Ireland and why he believes diversity and inclusion is critical to MSD’s future:

What inspires you and gets you out of bed in the morning?

Our people inspire me. We all have a fantastic opportunity working at a company that has the size and the scale of MSD. We have such tremendously talented people and together, we can make a difference and achieve meaningful outcomes. We improve the lives of patients and public health, which brings immense responsibility, but is also incredibly inspiring. It is the challenge for all of us to translate our great science into innovative medicines and vaccines that are used to benefit our society.

How important is it to have Diversity and Inclusion in an organisation and how does this impact on the culture at MSD?

I believe that Diversity and Inclusion are essential to any organisation and business, especially in a business like ours, where we need to solve complex problems, and our differentiator is the proprietary insight, strategies and activities with Health decision makers. It is imperative that all our employees should have an environment where they feel safe and comfortable to be themselves, speak their mind and contribute to these challenges. Diversity is key to innovation – I have seen the amazing impact diversity has in a business like ours when it is brought together and nurtured. It is critical to our success.

What makes a good leader?

Leadership is always experienced in context. In our context, a good leader provides a vision, sets the ambition of what we can achieve, but also creates clarity and role models, a culture in which experts, that work as part of the team, are able to contribute their expertise.

In a large organisation such as MSD there is also an element of helping people navigate issues or challenges, as well as demonstrating the courage to make harder decisions that need to be made. Good leaders will also recognise that we do not know every answer, and it is only by experimenting together collectively that we can solve for and overcome problems.

I also think a good leader should encourage people to make an impact, help create new opportunities, encourage them to develop and take on new challenges.

What has been your biggest learning moment?

Every opportunity I have had throughout my career has had learning moments. I have learned that by trying different things and by facing new challenges you will learn more about yourself and what you can achieve. Take on new experiences, challenge yourself do not be afraid of engagement or of failure. I look back at situations where I may have been anxious, or uncertain but it is these experiences that have pushed me out of my comfort zone which have had the most positive impact on me professionally.

What will you miss about being MD of the Netherlands?

Being MD of MSD in the Netherlands was a tremendous privilege. What was unique about the Netherlands was the fact we had our science and manufacturing and a real 360-degree view of our business in one place. You got to see the incredible contributions made by so many people throughout the process of getting our medicines and vaccines for humans and animals to those who need them, and you feel a real sense of purpose being close to that, seeing how we are helping to improve society.

The Netherlands is also a wonderful society, the people are straight forward, they know how to have fun, they know how to deliver, they challenge each other and speak up for what they believe in.

What are you looking forward to as MD of MSD in the UK and Ireland?

I believe I have returned to the UK at what is an exciting time for both the UK and Ireland and for our company.

We will play our part in supporting the recovery of the health systems, continuing to champion our medicines and vaccines in the interests of saving and improving lives. Equally, we have a role to play as a responsible high-skill employer and leading investor in both the UK & Ireland Life Sciences infrastructure. We will play our part as a collaborator towards the UK’s Life Sciences Vision. I look forward to engaging with government on both sides of the Irish Sea and to leading the organisation to ensure both the UK and Ireland continue to make a significant impact on the lives of patients, public health, and the economies in both areas.

I believe a sustainable healthcare system will only be possible through the adoption of innovative practices and technologies which have both patients and system benefits. The challenges are plentiful and will require continued partnership working and collaborations across all stakeholders that have a role to commission or delivery healthcare. I look forward to building on the existing strong partnerships in the UK to ensure that those who need our medicines and vaccines have access to them.

GB-NON-05622 | Date of Preparation February 2022

Our People

Volunteering – Helping those who need it the most

May 2022

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Back in March of last year (2021), MSD UK employee Giles Cooper-Gibson made use of the company’s volunteering scheme to become a Community First Responder (CFR) with the East of England Ambulance Service Trust.

MSD offers all employees the opportunity to volunteer with organisations for up to 40 hours each year. Giles utilised these hours to complete his weeklong training course, practical assessments, and written exams.

Part of the External Affairs team, Giles has been with MSD for more than two years and works in digital communications. He has been volunteering in one form or the other since he was 16 years old, having previously given his time to support a youth club and then as a Special Constable for 10 years.

“Being in a position to give something back to my community has always inspired me to volunteer,” said Giles. “And MSD’s volunteering scheme enabled me to do exactly that.”

Giles, who lives in Essex, has joined a group of other CFRs where they support the ambulance service by attending the highest priority 999 calls in their town and surrounding areas. Responders are trained to provide life support to patients in critical conditions until an emergency ambulance can attend.

In the summer of 2020 Giles was on his way home when he came across a road traffic collision. It was these events that led him to find out more about the CFR role and apply.

He explained: “I will never forget that journey and what happened. There were three people severely injured and one of them sadly passed away at the scene, but I was able to use my previous first aid experience to help a critically injured young woman.

“Once the emergency services arrived, the paramedics asked me to help with the woman until their other colleagues could take over. Afterwards, one of them was kind enough to take the time to find me, update me about her condition and thank me for my help.

“Although I had previous experience dealing with medical emergencies, this was the most distressing, but it made me realise that, despite ending my previous volunteering with the police a year or so before, I still wanted to help people.”

After researching the CFR role, Giles made some initial enquiries and then applied.

“I hadn’t quite thought about how I would fit the training in with all my other commitments until the option of a weeklong course was presented and a colleague pointed me in the direction of MSD’s volunteering scheme,” said Giles.

He continued: “With the support of my manager and wider team, I was able to join the course for the entire week and pass my assessments and exams.

“I’ve been out on many emergency calls already and I’m so grateful to be able to help those who need it the most. I’m also incredibly thankful that my employer has been – and continues to be – so supportive.”

GB-NON-05576 | Date of Preparation February 2022


Tackling loneliness and social isolation in Edinburgh

May 2022

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It has long been known that loneliness and social isolation have detrimental effects on our health – with outcomes comparable to smoking, obesity and high blood pressure.

Recognising the devastating impact on not only the individual but also the far–reaching consequences on society was the driving force for Neil MacDonald (together with partner agencies including the NHS) to take action and make a difference.

In his role as a healthcare lead within market access at MSD, Neil has worked alongside healthcare authorities, advocates, and others across Scotland. Together with the Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership, and other partner agencies which included NHS Lothian, EVOC, Space, and Oxgangs Care, they collectively identified a problem with loneliness and social isolation in Edinburgh and in autumn 2019 devised a programme to help tackle this.

The programme worked closely with GP practices to identify those who may have been presenting at surgeries as being lonely, bereaved or those who were isolated or unable to undertake daily tasks such as going to the shops / collect prescriptions for a variety of reasons including problems with mobility or not having close family/ friends nearby to help.

The GPs would then put them in contact with a Community Link Worker (CLW) who would conduct personal interviews and then provide tailored community resources to program participants all aimed at improving patients’ quality of life while also lowering primary care visits and hospital stays. The programme was off to a strong start and already seeing benefits when the pandemic hit.

“We had just received some terrific preliminary results from the first several months of the programme including some powerful anecdotes from those involved,” says Neil. “Then COVID-19 arrived, so the coalition’s steering group had some important decisions to make around how we adapted or even expanded the programme to address the changing and growing needs of society.”

Neil and his NHS Lothian peers, and the steering group decided to continue the programme virtually to those initially enrolled, plus they offered services to those in underserved areas who also needed to quarantine during the pandemic. This expansion reached some of those most vulnerable people suffering from isolation and unable to carry out daily tasks. 

“We moved very quickly to make this programme work for those in critical need during the pandemic and to ensure no interruption of services. We continued to deliver prescriptions, medication and essentials to those who needed them and also continued to provide services to help those who were emotionally and mentally vulnerable too” says Neil. “We are extremely proud of what this programme has achieved for not only those receiving these particular services, but also for our company and partner agencies too.”

Neil attributes the success of the programme to strong partnership working and our supportive culture at MSD where employees are encouraged to make a difference. “Having strong relationships with our partnerships, coupled with our culture at MSD to make a difference through collaboration, without doubt, was what helped us ensure this programme got off the ground – and continues to be a success.”

To learn more, you can view the video here

GB-NON-05566 | Date of Preparation February 2022


Helping Tackle Youth Homelessness, MSD awards $100,000 USD grant to New Horizon Youth Centre in London

May 2022

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Neighbour of Choice, our annual global community grants programme, seeks to support the work of local non-profits who are committed to improving the wellbeing of the communities we serve.

MSD in the UK is passionate about the role we can play in connecting with and supporting important initiatives within the city. We are proud to announce that our Neighbour of Choice for 2021/2022 is New Horizon Youth Centre, an organisation dedicated to improving the mental health and wellbeing of young people experiencing homelessness in the capital. 

Every year, thousands of young people become homeless due to reasons including family breakdown or experiences of violence and domestic abuse. The wider impact of homelessness on young people is greater than just a lack of housing, with many of those affected seeking shelter in often unsafe conditions, turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms or experiencing negative effects on their mental health and wellbeing. The emergence of Covid-19 has only exacerbated this issue, with London seeing homelessness amongst 16–25-year-olds increase by 47% since the pandemic began.

New Horizon Youth Centre therefore exists to combat both youth homelessness as a whole and its effects on those impacted by it. Operating both online and in-person at their Kings Cross drop-in centre, the initiative aims to help young people by offering a holistic ‘one stop shop’ service which caters to the individual’s specific needs, whether this be assisting them with finding shelter, improving their economic circumstances, or offering mental health and wellbeing support. Having been committed to the fight against youth homelessness for 53 years, New Horizons was identified as one of the Big Issue Foundation’s Change Makers and awarded the London Youth Employability Award in 2019.

HR Director for MSD in the UK, Susannah Hodgson, said:

“MSD is delighted to have awarded New Horizon Youth Centre a grant of $100,000 USD, as our 2021/2022 Neighbour of Choice in London.  We admire the fantastic work that they do to tackle youth homelessness, whilst seeking to improve the mental health and wellbeing of hundreds of young people aged 16 – 24.  We remain committed to our role in the community through listening, and by connecting with and supporting the impactful work of our valued partners, such as New Horizons Youth Centre.”

Learn more about the work of New Horizon Youth Centre here.

GB-NON-05431 | Date of Preparation January 2022