Our Programmes2019-06-12T11:59:54+00:00

OUR PROGRAMMES

Empowering the Collective Voice of refugees and asylum
seekers to influence policy and practice

OUR PROGRAMMES

Empowering the Collective Voice of refugees and asylum seekers to influence policy and practice

Influencing, empowering,
supporting

We deliver two strands of work

  1. A programme of influencing, determined by priorities set by our members. We deliver influencing through our issue-based Working Groups, made up volunteers from across our membership base who work together to produce their authentic, collective, advocate voice and use it to influence policy and practice around those priorities. They come together to share and compare what’s happening in their communities, focusing on the distinct challenges they face that are not shared by voluntary migrants or the non-refugee BME and white community. They then identify what works, or would work best in tackling those challenges, and who needs to be involved for this to happen.
  2. A programme of empowerment support for asylum seekers and refugees wanting to take action for change and improve the lives of their communities

Influencing policy and practice to promote mental health and healthy living

Our Health Working Group (HWG) seeks to influence health policy at a national, regional and local level, the commissioning of health services in the region, and the way in which health services are delivered to the region’s community of refugees and asylum seekers as local service users. Following priorities set by our membership our HWG has, for the past 3 years, been advocating for

  1. policy and practice that will prevent avoidable deterioration in mental health after arrival in the region that arises from post-migratory conditions driven by policy
  2. policy and practice that will address the challenges this community faces in adapting to sudden inactivity and changed diet so as to reduce the risk of long term illness such as diabetes and heart disease.

Our HWG presents our members’ voiced experience directly to health commissioners, health & wellbeing boards, health service managers, front line health professionals, and students studying at the region’s universities. Their work includes:

  • presenting their voice directly to 8 Clinical Commissioning Groups, 11 Health & Wellbeing Boards and 11 Public Health Commissioners.
  • delivering upskilling sessions to over 2,000 front line health professionals and students of medicine, nursing and public health at the Teesside, Sunderland and Newcastle Universities.
  • submitting recommendations for enhanced health access, vulnerability and safeguarding to the Home Office’s consultation process on new asylum support contracts, AASC and AIRE, to run from September 2019
  • writing the first Joint Strategic Needs Assessment insert in the region on Refugees and Asylum Seekers as a distinct community of interest/experience
  • producing a pilot health access card with Newcastle Public Health to help close gaps in access to health services and support
  • sharing learning gained from visiting emerging models of practice in other areas of the UK, to promote transfer and scale up
  • raising awareness of the impacts of the introduction of health charging in the NHS
  • advocating for collaborative working with RCOs as an effective strategy for reducing health inequalities

Influencing policy and practice to promote family resilience

Our Stronger Families Working Group (SFWG) emerged in 2014 in response to widespread and deep concern across our membership about the number of families falling apart after arrival in the region, and the number of children being taken into care. Parents face adjusting, literally overnight, to UK specific legislation, safeguarding frameworks and social norms around parenting, whilst coping with the multiple and sustained stresses of claiming asylum and lives framed by asylum policy, or the challenges of resettlement.  Yet there has been no systematic or consistent provision of orientation information and early help support for newly arriving parents which could help them make this adjustment and prevent avoidable escalation.

Our SFWG has two aims:

  1. to advocate for systematic provision of non-judgemental orientation information and early help support for newly arriving parents to help them make this adjustment and prevent avoidable escalation.
  2. to help develop the knowledge, understanding and competencies of front line professionals and promote anti-oppressive, anti-discriminatory and social justice-based social work practice.

Our SFWG’s activities have included:

  • Advocating for an orientation and early help strategy around Parenting to be included within Home Office asylum support contracts and Local Authority planning
  • Advocating for peer voices to be involved in delivery of orientation support, understanding that ‘the messenger is as important as the message’
  • Delivering upskilling sessions to Local Authority Social Work teams as part of their programme of Workforce Development
  • Delivering upskilling sessions to undergraduate and Masters Social Work students studying at the region’s Universities. Our sessions are now part of the annual syllabus. SFWG members have also joined University admissions panels, interviewing prospective students
  • Organising workshops for RCOs to dialogue with professionals with key roles in safeguarding and early help. These sessions build mutual understanding of challenges and expectations and identify local support resources, so increasing RCO’s capacity promote resilience within their communities.
  • Arranging safeguarding training for RCOs, enabling them to cascade accurate information to their communities and increase awareness of parents’ rights and responsibilities
  • Collaborating with the North East Child Poverty Commission in the production of the report: ‘Written out of the Picture: the role of local services in tackling child poverty amongst asylum seekers and refugees’.
  • Our work between 2017-18 was supported by a grant form Ben & Jerry’s Foundation

Influencing policy and practice to promote action on Hate

Through our Community Safety Working Group, our members have been taking action to secure access to practical and emotional support for victims of hate that take into account the reasons why many in their community prefer not to involve the police in their lives. Too many of their members who were victims of hate were suffering in silence, and often living in fear of repeat victimisation.

Their work has included:

  • Providing practical guidance for our members on reporting hate and securing support for victims without directly involving the police, but which nevertheless can still provide police and Local Authorities with intelligence about where hate is happening so that they can mobilise resources to tackle it. See our films ‘TAKE ACTION ON HATE, and make a difference for us all’ for RCOs working across the Tees Valley area and ‘TAKE ACTION ON HATE, and make a difference for us all’ for RCOs working across the Tyne & Wear area.
  • Building direct relations between
  • RCOs and the Victim Care and Support Service in Teesside and Victims First Northumbria
  • RCOs and their local Neighbourhood Police Team or Community Engagement team
  • RCOs and their Local Authority Community Safety Team
  • Developing customised Community Champions training for RCOs, in collaboration with Victim Support and the Police, that gives equal focus on 3rd party and anonymised reporting routes.
  • Delivering quarterly workshops to Cleveland Police officers as part of the force’s ‘Everyone Matters’ Equality, Diversity and Human Rights Strategy and advocating for a Victims First approach in practice
  • Supporting the recruitment of the first Refugee & Asylum Seeker Liaison Officer within Cleveland Police
  • Collaborating with Northumbria Police on a successful Hate Crime prosecution
  • Contributing lived experience and recommendations to Policy consultations, including the national Hate Crime Inquiry, Crown Prosecution Services’ Policy on Racially and Religiously Aggravated Hate Crime, Cleveland Police’s Equality, Diversity and Human Rights Strategy, and Local Authority Hate Crime Strategies and Action Plans.
  • Advocating for an improved response for victims of hate and crime within Home Office asylum support contracts
  • Sharing key messages and recommendations via presentations at key platforms: North East Race Equality Forum, NE Migration Partnership, Hate Crime Awareness Week, North East Regional Race Crime & Justice Research Network

Our work has been made possible through funding from the Offices of the Police and Crime Commissioners for Cleveland and for Northumbria.

Influencing policy and practice to promote economic inclusion

  • For our members’ voice on the challenges of skills transfer in the UK and underemployment and unemployment amongst refugees see testimony, films and reports in ‘Voice’.
  • As Chair of the North East Migration Partnership’s Move on and Economic Inclusion Sub-group, we work alongside specialist support agencies, the DWP and HMRC to identify good practice in securing financial inclusion and employment, and practical actions for tackling the distinct barriers that refugees face in securing employment that reflects their prior skills, experience and qualifications
  • Working with the region’s DWP, we submitted a proposal to the Home Office for a practical offer of Move on support that could be systematically and equally available to all new status refugees. This pilot was trialled by the Home Office and DWP in the North East, Yorkshire & Humberside and then rolled out nationally as the Post-Grant Appointment Service. We have advocated for Move on support to be part of the statement of requirements of the new Home Office support contracts to run from 2019
  • We are a member of the national Lift the Ban coalition campaigning to restore the right to work for everyone waiting for more than 6 months for a decision on their asylum claim. Our members provided many of the survey responses which informed the campaign’s report.

Influencing policy and practice around Refugee Resettlement Programmes (VPRS) and Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC)

‘SVPR: A refugee perspective of experience and good practice’ 2017. When the North East began hosting Syrian refugees resettled under the Government’s Syrian Vulnerable Persons’ Resettlement programme (SVPR) from late 2015, practice was still ‘emergent’ across the UK and opportunities to share learning very valuable. The North East Migration Partnership commissioned us to conduct qualitative research that would enable the lived experience of some of the Syrian families in each of the Local Authority areas hosting the scheme to be heard by those developing policy and organising a service response for the programme.    Our Arabic-speaking Community Research Team helped families reflect on their experience and then worked together to capture both the range of individual experiences as well as identify what was shared and recurring. This learning and recommendations on what works/could work better was presented to representatives from the Home Office, UNHCR, Local Authority resettlement teams and service providers in the North East, to help inform their future planning and delivery.

Understanding what works in supporting UASC from the perspective of young people themselves. Following the roll out of the Government’s National Transfer Scheme in 2016, some North East Local Authorities offered to host Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children while Universities wanted to develop the understanding and competences of their social work students.  We have been delivering upskilling sessions to Local Authority social work, looked after children, and leaving care teams, and foster carers, and Universities which share the perspective of those who arrived in the region as UASC and their recommendations for good practice.

This work has been assisted with funding from the North East Migration Partnership.

Supporting the role of refugee-led community action

Our Empowerment Project (starting 2019) delivers a programme of learning and development for asylum seekers and refugees living across the North East region who want to be agents of change.

Many Refugees and Asylum Seekers want to take action to improve the lives of the communities they are part of.  These are people who are committed to securing equality, human rights and social justice for disadvantaged communities. This is often the reason why they had to seek asylum. For others, it’s a commitment born out of lived experience of the particular challenges RAS face in settling and integrating in the region.  Whilst back home they had the skills and confidence to challenge failing or unfair systems, without a ‘re-orientation’ map for how things work in the UK, and where levers for change exist, they are disempowered. They want to be agents of change but, unless they have a chance to understand how change happens in the UK context and who to engage with and collaborate with in the process, they struggle to make a real difference.

From over 15 years’ experience of working with the RAS community in the region, we know the unique contribution to change that motivated individuals can make if only their commitment and potential can be realised. But most would-be change makers never get far on this journey. They encounter setbacks, frustration, feel defeated and give up. Our project aims to ensure this does not happen. It aims to empower them to take the lead in civil society and be agents for change for the RAS community.

Over the next 3 years, our project will work with would-be change makers from the RAS community living across the North East region. These will be people from across the spectrum of the asylum and refugee journey, from recently arrived to those who may now have citizenship. Through a combination of group learning, peer learning and one to one support, our project will build their knowledge, skills and relationships so they can be effective agents for change in the issues they identify as affecting the lives of the communities they belong to, including health and wellbeing, asylum support, economic and social inclusion, community safety, and family resilience. We will use a ‘Learning Communities’ model, where groups of peers create a space to discuss real challenges, supporting each other to reflect on the complex judgements they have to make in bringing about change, assess what could be done differently, problem solve, innovate, motivate and support each other, fill knowledge and skills gaps, and so improve their capacity to be effective change makers.

 This project is supported by a grant from the National Lottery Community Fund.

Funders

Influencing, empowering,
supporting

We deliver two strands of work

  1. A programme of influencing, determined by priorities set by our members. We deliver influencing through our issue-based Working Groups, made up volunteers from across our membership base who work together to produce their authentic, collective, advocate voice and use it to influence policy and practice around those priorities. They come together to share and compare what’s happening in their communities, focusing on the distinct challenges they face that are not shared by voluntary migrants or the non-refugee BME and white community. They then identify what works, or would work best in tackling those challenges, and who needs to be involved for this to happen.
  2. A programme of empowerment support for asylum seekers and refugees wanting to take action for change and improve the lives of their communities

Influencing policy and practice to promote mental health and healthy living

Our Health Working Group (HWG) seeks to influence health policy at a national, regional and local level, the commissioning of health services in the region, and the way in which health services are delivered to the region’s community of refugees and asylum seekers as local service users. Following priorities set by our membership our HWG has, for the past 3 years, been advocating for

  1. policy and practice that will prevent avoidable deterioration in mental health after arrival in the region that arises from post-migratory conditions driven by policy
  2. policy and practice that will address the challenges this community faces in adapting to sudden inactivity and changed diet so as to reduce the risk of long term illness such as diabetes and heart disease.

Our HWG presents our members’ voiced experience directly to health commissioners, health & wellbeing boards, health service managers, front line health professionals, and students studying at the region’s universities. Their work includes:

  • presenting their voice directly to 8 Clinical Commissioning Groups, 11 Health & Wellbeing Boards and 11 Public Health Commissioners.
  • delivering upskilling sessions to over 2,000 front line health professionals and students of medicine, nursing and public health at the Teesside, Sunderland and Newcastle Universities.
  • submitting recommendations for enhanced health access, vulnerability and safeguarding to the Home Office’s consultation process on new asylum support contracts, AASC and AIRE, to run from September 2019
  • writing the first Joint Strategic Needs Assessment insert in the region on Refugees and Asylum Seekers as a distinct community of interest/experience
  • producing a pilot health access card with Newcastle Public Health to help close gaps in access to health services and support
  • sharing learning gained from visiting emerging models of practice in other areas of the UK, to promote transfer and scale up
  • raising awareness of the impacts of the introduction of health charging in the NHS
  • advocating for collaborative working with RCOs as an effective strategy for reducing health inequalities

Influencing policy and practice to promote family resilience

Our Stronger Families Working Group (SFWG) emerged in 2014 in response to widespread and deep concern across our membership about the number of families falling apart after arrival in the region, and the number of children being taken into care. Parents face adjusting, literally overnight, to UK specific legislation, safeguarding frameworks and social norms around parenting, whilst coping with the multiple and sustained stresses of claiming asylum and lives framed by asylum policy, or the challenges of resettlement.  Yet there has been no systematic or consistent provision of orientation information and early help support for newly arriving parents which could help them make this adjustment and prevent avoidable escalation.

Our SFWG has two aims:

  1. to advocate for systematic provision of non-judgemental orientation information and early help support for newly arriving parents to help them make this adjustment and prevent avoidable escalation.
  2. to help develop the knowledge, understanding and competencies of front line professionals and promote anti-oppressive, anti-discriminatory and social justice-based social work practice.

Our SFWG’s activities have included:

  • Advocating for an orientation and early help strategy around Parenting to be included within Home Office asylum support contracts and Local Authority planning
  • Advocating for peer voices to be involved in delivery of orientation support, understanding that ‘the messenger is as important as the message’
  • Delivering upskilling sessions to Local Authority Social Work teams as part of their programme of Workforce Development
  • Delivering upskilling sessions to undergraduate and Masters Social Work students studying at the region’s Universities. Our sessions are now part of the annual syllabus. SFWG members have also joined University admissions panels, interviewing prospective students
  • Organising workshops for RCOs to dialogue with professionals with key roles in safeguarding and early help. These sessions build mutual understanding of challenges and expectations and identify local support resources, so increasing RCO’s capacity promote resilience within their communities.
  • Arranging safeguarding training for RCOs, enabling them to cascade accurate information to their communities and increase awareness of parents’ rights and responsibilities
  • Collaborating with the North East Child Poverty Commission in the production of the report: ‘Written out of the Picture: the role of local services in tackling child poverty amongst asylum seekers and refugees’.
  • Our work between 2017-18 was supported by a grant form Ben & Jerry’s Foundation

Influencing policy and practice to promote action on Hate

Through our Community Safety Working Group, our members have been taking action to secure access to practical and emotional support for victims of hate that take into account the reasons why many in their community prefer not to involve the police in their lives. Too many of their members who were victims of hate were suffering in silence, and often living in fear of repeat victimisation.

Their work has included:

  • Providing practical guidance for our members on reporting hate and securing support for victims without directly involving the police, but which nevertheless can still provide police and Local Authorities with intelligence about where hate is happening so that they can mobilise resources to tackle it. See our films ‘TAKE ACTION ON HATE, and make a difference for us all’ for RCOs working across the Tees Valley area and ‘TAKE ACTION ON HATE, and make a difference for us all’ for RCOs working across the Tyne & Wear area.
  • Building direct relations between
  • RCOs and the Victim Care and Support Service in Teesside and Victims First Northumbria
  • RCOs and their local Neighbourhood Police Team or Community Engagement team
  • RCOs and their Local Authority Community Safety Team
  • Developing customised Community Champions training for RCOs, in collaboration with Victim Support and the Police, that gives equal focus on 3rd party and anonymised reporting routes.
  • Delivering quarterly workshops to Cleveland Police officers as part of the force’s ‘Everyone Matters’ Equality, Diversity and Human Rights Strategy and advocating for a Victims First approach in practice
  • Supporting the recruitment of the first Refugee & Asylum Seeker Liaison Officer within Cleveland Police
  • Collaborating with Northumbria Police on a successful Hate Crime prosecution
  • Contributing lived experience and recommendations to Policy consultations, including the national Hate Crime Inquiry, Crown Prosecution Services’ Policy on Racially and Religiously Aggravated Hate Crime, Cleveland Police’s Equality, Diversity and Human Rights Strategy, and Local Authority Hate Crime Strategies and Action Plans.
  • Advocating for an improved response for victims of hate and crime within Home Office asylum support contracts
  • Sharing key messages and recommendations via presentations at key platforms: North East Race Equality Forum, NE Migration Partnership, Hate Crime Awareness Week, North East Regional Race Crime & Justice Research Network

Our work has been made possible through funding from the Offices of the Police and Crime Commissioners for Cleveland and for Northumbria.

Influencing policy and practice to promote economic inclusion

  • For our members’ voice on the challenges of skills transfer in the UK and underemployment and unemployment amongst refugees see testimony, films and reports in ‘Voice’.
  • As Chair of the North East Migration Partnership’s Move on and Economic Inclusion Sub-group, we work alongside specialist support agencies, the DWP and HMRC to identify good practice in securing financial inclusion and employment, and practical actions for tackling the distinct barriers that refugees face in securing employment that reflects their prior skills, experience and qualifications
  • Working with the region’s DWP, we submitted a proposal to the Home Office for a practical offer of Move on support that could be systematically and equally available to all new status refugees. This pilot was trialled by the Home Office and DWP in the North East, Yorkshire & Humberside and then rolled out nationally as the Post-Grant Appointment Service. We have advocated for Move on support to be part of the statement of requirements of the new Home Office support contracts to run from 2019
  • We are a member of the national Lift the Ban coalition campaigning to restore the right to work for everyone waiting for more than 6 months for a decision on their asylum claim. Our members provided many of the survey responses which informed the campaign’s report.

Influencing policy and practice around Refugee Resettlement Programmes (VPRS) and Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC)

‘SVPR: A refugee perspective of experience and good practice’ 2017. When the North East began hosting Syrian refugees resettled under the Government’s Syrian Vulnerable Persons’ Resettlement programme (SVPR) from late 2015, practice was still ‘emergent’ across the UK and opportunities to share learning very valuable. The North East Migration Partnership commissioned us to conduct qualitative research that would enable the lived experience of some of the Syrian families in each of the Local Authority areas hosting the scheme to be heard by those developing policy and organising a service response for the programme.    Our Arabic-speaking Community Research Team helped families reflect on their experience and then worked together to capture both the range of individual experiences as well as identify what was shared and recurring. This learning and recommendations on what works/could work better was presented to representatives from the Home Office, UNHCR, Local Authority resettlement teams and service providers in the North East, to help inform their future planning and delivery.

Understanding what works in supporting UASC from the perspective of young people themselves. Following the roll out of the Government’s National Transfer Scheme in 2016, some North East Local Authorities offered to host Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children while Universities wanted to develop the understanding and competences of their social work students.  We have been delivering upskilling sessions to Local Authority social work, looked after children, and leaving care teams, and foster carers, and Universities which share the perspective of those who arrived in the region as UASC and their recommendations for good practice.

This work has been assisted with funding from the North East Migration Partnership.

Supporting the role of refugee-led community action

Our Empowerment Project (starting 2019) delivers a programme of learning and development for asylum seekers and refugees living across the North East region who want to be agents of change.

Many Refugees and Asylum Seekers want to take action to improve the lives of the communities they are part of.  These are people who are committed to securing equality, human rights and social justice for disadvantaged communities. This is often the reason why they had to seek asylum. For others, it’s a commitment born out of lived experience of the particular challenges RAS face in settling and integrating in the region.  Whilst back home they had the skills and confidence to challenge failing or unfair systems, without a ‘re-orientation’ map for how things work in the UK, and where levers for change exist, they are disempowered. They want to be agents of change but, unless they have a chance to understand how change happens in the UK context and who to engage with and collaborate with in the process, they struggle to make a real difference.

From over 15 years’ experience of working with the RAS community in the region, we know the unique contribution to change that motivated individuals can make if only their commitment and potential can be realised. But most would-be change makers never get far on this journey. They encounter setbacks, frustration, feel defeated and give up. Our project aims to ensure this does not happen. It aims to empower them to take the lead in civil society and be agents for change for the RAS community.

Over the next 3 years, our project will work with would-be change makers from the RAS community living across the North East region. These will be people from across the spectrum of the asylum and refugee journey, from recently arrived to those who may now have citizenship. Through a combination of group learning, peer learning and one to one support, our project will build their knowledge, skills and relationships so they can be effective agents for change in the issues they identify as affecting the lives of the communities they belong to, including health and wellbeing, asylum support, economic and social inclusion, community safety, and family resilience. We will use a ‘Learning Communities’ model, where groups of peers create a space to discuss real challenges, supporting each other to reflect on the complex judgements they have to make in bringing about change, assess what could be done differently, problem solve, innovate, motivate and support each other, fill knowledge and skills gaps, and so improve their capacity to be effective change makers.

 This project is supported by a grant from the National Lottery Community Fund.

CONTACTS

If you have an idea to improve lives in your community, and want to join action for change, then get in touch with us today.

CONTACTS

CONTACTS

If you have an idea to improve lives in your community, and want to join action for change, then get in touch with us today.

CONTACTS