Refugees Are Welcome
Thoughtful, caring and long-term work to welcome people forced to flee their country of origin is helping people settle in new homes and communities. Stories from members include:
- BVT welcome first family to Birmingham under Syrians settlement scheme
- Ongo Homes making sure refugees are welcomed by a family of the same culture
- bcha taking a phone call from a local benefactor asking them to buy homes
- Calico Homes three-stage integration pathway dating back to 2016
- Cross Keys Homes called on by local authority as a trusted social landlord
- Grand Union using its local roots to link in with support services
- Mosscare St Vincent’s Housing overcoming financial hurdles
- Soha Housing providing accommodation at a peppercorn rent
PlaceShapers' stories help others learn and consider how they could take forward the approaches They have identified ten key points.
1. Home is what matters most
If a family are not happy in their home, it will affect integration. Social landlords are ideal; they provide affordable, well-maintained homes with extra support and great links into local services and agencies.
2: Working in partnership achieves great things
The crisis requires organisations and agencies to work together to address issues calling for expertise in different fields. Partners come in all shapes and sizes – what matters is they put the client front and centre. Be open to conversations with all, as early as possible.
3: Champion the person not the ‘risk’
Housing a family could be considered by some to be a risk. They may be targeted by others, have language barriers, or struggle to integrate. Removing barriers (rather than counting them) allows people to reach their full potential.
4: Get to know and understand people
There are many myths and stereotypes. Get to know the people so you can offer the support they need rather than base it on assumptions.
5. Location matters
Good transport links are important and access to facilities such as schools and healthcare and support groups. It can help if there are other refugee families housed nearby so they can support each other.
7: Flexibility is key
Some members’ lettings policies allow the, to immediately house someone in special circumstances. Be aware of difficulties for refugees needing to use conventional application/ bidding systems.
8. Gather knowledge
Understand the practicalities and requirements of initiatives like the Home Office scheme so that you allocate the right properties, in the right areas, with the right rent.
9. Be in it for the long term
The need for support can increase over time. Trauma and life experience can make it difficult to gain an understanding of British life and culture. In some cultures, there is a stigma to mental ill-health which means people are reluctant to accept help.
10. It works
All members said their approach had made a positive local difference to an international humanitarian crisis; staff felt proud to be involved and many had gone over and above in their own time to help.