In March, when India went into lockdown and grounded all international flights to combat the spread of Covid-19, there was a group of young Indian doctors in the UK for a crucial qualification examination who were among the thousands left stranded.
Around 23 doctors from different parts of India were in Manchester to appear for the second part of a two-part Professional and Linguistic Assessments Board?(PLAB) test hosted by the UK's General Medical Council (GMC). The first part of the international standards test can be cleared in the doctors' home countries, with the second part conducted in a mock medical environment setting in Manchester.
Understandably, these young medics came to the UK with very short-term plans in place when they found themselves quite lost in a virtually alien country with no support network.
The British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO) stepped in after Dr Raka Maitra, a psychiatrist, brought their predicament to light.
“They were feeling lost because they had arrived here with no plans of long-term stay. This threw up a whole range of complexities, which we set about addressing one by one,” she recalls.
From the very basic requirements of access to funds without any bank accounts or financial systems in place in the UK to affordable accommodation, Dr Maitra oversaw a range of solutions alongside BAPIO.