In March, the Government launched the Integrated Communities Strategy Green Paper, in response to to the Casey Review. The needs of, and barriers faced by, refugees were mentioned at several key points in the paper and there is now a period of consultation on the strategy.
A key policy principle within the Green Paper is to ‘work with civil society and others to increase the integration support available to help refugees overcome the barriers to integration.’ The work taking place in local communities, including but not limited to sponsorship schemes, is highlighted and on this, the report states; ‘We are aware that there is considerable energy and desire in local communities to support refugees in their integration journey. We want to explore what more can be done to assist volunteers supporting refugees to integrate in the UK’.
Our National Director, Hazel Williams, writes; ‘The inclusion of refugees in the Green Paper is welcomed, as is the recognition of some of the barriers faced by people who have been through the asylum system in the UK.
Indeed, many of the steps proposed in this strategy are positive, such as specialist interventions to help refugees find work, support for those working with refugees to understand mental health and wellbeing needs, and improvements to the provision of information to refugees.
Furthermore as a network of projects that are often largely or exclusively run by volunteers, we too can testify that communities have an incredible energy and appetite for supporting people who have sought sanctuary here. It is important that this is recognised and celebrated.
Yet if we are to do justice to the people that our members support, we feel this whole conversation about integration does not go far enough. There needs to be greater support for sanctuary seekers right from the beginning of the asylum process. There also needs to be a change in legislation to prevent homelessness amongst people after people have been granted status.’
There is now a consultation on the Green Paper underway until 5th June and we would welcome input from members across the UK. Details of our planned response will then be shared with members next month.
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