Promoting meaningful refugee participation in the UK
Submitted by: Elaine Gaskell, International Lead, Resettlement Asylum Support and Integration, UK Government
Email: [email protected]
Introduction to the project
Preparation for the Annual Tripartite Consultations on Refugees (ATCR) began in 2018, the Refugee Advisory Group (RAG) was formed in 2019.
The project is ongoing.
The Refugee Advisory Group (RAG) was formed in partnership with the British Refugee Council and Migration Yorkshire who identified resettled refugees across a variety of genders, age groups and nationalities from both Gateway and Vulnerable Persons Resettlement schemes living across Yorkshire and Scotland.
Using the Refugee Voices Framework, produced through a bench-marking exercise with other members of the Syria Core Group on Resettlement, the UK wanted to find ways to draw upon the refugee voice across the resettlement journey, from identification to arrival and integration. As part of this project, the UK aimed to:
- increase the number of refugees participating in local and national discussions about the refugee landscape
- form a group of refugees who could be involved with the design and development content for the ATCR 2018-19
- amplify the refugee voice at international fora
- ensure refugees where consulted on UK resettlement and integration policy
On this basis, the Refugee Advisory Group (RAG) was formed. RAG members took part in both WGR (Sheffield March 2019) and the ATCR (Geneva 2019). In Geneva, to great acclaim, they delivered the very first Refugee Statement, which will become an integral part of future ATCRs. The Statement set out the hopes and aspirations of the refugees to the global community, including amplifying the refugee voice at both national and international level to improve resettlement for those who come after them and promote the valuable contribution which resettled refugees can make to their new communities. This supports the UK’s commitment to the Global Refugee Compact, the 3-year Strategy and Global Refugee Forum
The UK Government funded the RAG and their attendance at the WGR and ATCR. UK Government, British Refugee Council and Migration Yorkshire developed the group, supported them at the events and produced materials for the fora.
Main activities of the Good Practice
At the heart of the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework and the Global Compact on Refugees is the commitment to:
develop and support consultative processes that enable refugees and host community members to assist in designing appropriate, accessible and inclusive responses.
This includes meaningful engagement with states, NGOs and refugee-led organisations to effect real change in their lives and those who come after them.
By working with refugees, British Refugee Council and Migration Yorkshire, the UK government formed the Refugee Advisory Group (RAG), to build understanding of the lived experiences of refugees in the resettlement system and to promote refugee voice and participation.
The RAG was formed in early 2019; made up of resettled refugees, of a range of ages, genders, resettlement schemes and nationalities from across Yorkshire, Humberside and Scotland. The RAG embodied meaningful refugee participation, supporting the design and delivery of the Working Group on Resettlement (Sheffield March 2019) and the ATCR (Geneva July 2019), which culminated in their delivery of the first Refugee Statement.
Post ATCR, the RAG has been involved in shaping our new 3-day Cultural Orientation programme and reviewing British Refugee Council services and products.
The UK’s approach to meaningful refugee participation aligns well with the 3-year Strategy (2019-21) on Resettlement and Complementary Pathways objective of promoting welcoming and inclusive societies; meaningful refuge participation being a cross cutting tool to help implement the strategy.
- British Refugee Council
- Migration Yorkshire
- Members of the Syria Core Group for Resettlement
Challenges and how they were overcome
One of the main challenges was to convene, in a short space of time, an Advisory Group that was inclusive of the different resettlement experiences in the UK. It was recognised that the Group should be as representative of the wider resettled refugee community as possible, and that an individual’s personal situation could present barriers to their engagement, such as childcare, ability to travel and language skills.
How they were overcome:
The British Refugee Council and Migration Yorkshire identified individuals from the Gateway and the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement schemes, through fora in which they were already involved.
As initial engagement took place through those established fora, many of the personal and language barriers had already been addressed and solutions found. It also meant that meetings were already in diaries, limiting fatigue.
Results of the Good Practice
Through the Refugee Advisory Group (RAG), UK refugees have a method to affect change for themselves and for future arrivals. To date, this has included:
- Empowering people with a refugee background by inviting them to help design and deliver the Working Group on Resettlement and ATCR 2019;
- Doubling refugee presence and participation in these fora;
- Refugee self-advocacy by producing and delivering the first Refugee Statement at ATCR - setting the standard for the future;
- Increasing government understanding of the refugee experience;
- Feeding into consultations by UK Government and NGOs - influencing new products and support services.