Refugee Employment Network (REN)
The project in brief
Resettlement Asylum Support and Integration, UK Government
The Refugee Employment Network (REN) started in 2017.
The REN is a permanent network.
Government funding is provided for the period 1 October 2019 to 31 March 2021.
The UK Government’s Integrated Communities Action Plan, published in February 2019, commits the Home Office to supporting the development of interventions to help refugees overcome the barriers they can encounter when seeking employment in the UK. This includes continuing to work with the Refugee Employment Network (REN) as it develops a co-ordinated approach across the refugee employment sector to support refugees on employability and finding work.
Over a period of 18 months government funding will support the Secretariat function of the REN, to enable its formal registration as a legal entity and to significantly progress the activities of the REN and its members. The activities below address the areas identified by REN members at the Network’s formal launch in January 2019.
The REN aims to:
- Increase capacity to support refugee employment among partner members through development of shared guidelines, good practices, and training:
- develop and share the evidence base of ‘what works’
- agree over consistent metrics and evaluation frameworks
- increase employment opportunities for refugees by enhancing employer engagement and support and acting as a hub for this
- expand membership of the REN, including increasing business participation in membership both for employment and self-employment support
- encourage the direct involvement of refugees
- encourage member organisations in developing relationships with local government and other parts of civil society
In October 2019, the UK Government awarded a grant to the REN to enable it to develop structures and activities that ensure its long-term sustainability and that promote a coordinated approach to supporting refugee employment; encouraging collaboration, consistency and more effective engagement with the business sector.
REN is a partnership network involving over 80 organisations involved in supporting refugee employment.
Challenges and how they were overcome
The challenge of bringing together multiple stakeholders across the UK to agree on a mission and a vision for the network to support refugee employment and self-employment.
From 2017, regular meetings were held to develop and agree a vision for REN with up to 15 NGOs. A conference with 80 participants set the direction for the network.
Results of the Good Practice
The REN’s vision is to enable every refugee in the UK to gain appropriate, fulfilling, paid employment or self-employment.
The REN seeks to enable its more than members to share good practice and develop relationships with the business sector. By responding to the needs of refugees and communities REN can bring sustained and positive benefits by coordinating and maximising opportunities for refugee employment across the UK.
How the project meets the GCR Objectives
Objective 2: Enhance refugee self-reliance
The Refugee Employment Network (REN) was established in 2017 to develop a UK-wide community of organisations all offering employment programmes or assistance to refugees in the UK. Much of the support available to refugees has previously been offered in isolation and the REN seeks to enable members to share good practice and develop relationships with the business sector, including working with central and local government and employers to create more effective partnerships.
The REN’s vision is to enable every refugee in the UK to gain appropriate, fulfilling, paid employment or self-employment; embodying the refugee self-reliance objective of the Global Compact of Refugees.
REN aims to broaden the support base, of actors who can support and develop refugee employment, including refugees themselves. By developing, delivering and sharing best practice in partnerships with civil society and local communities REN aims to help build welcoming and inclusive societies in alignment with the Three-Year Strategy (2019-2021) on Resettlement and Complementary Pathways.
Now that funding is in place, the REN is beginning the various workstreams that will deliver the aims set out above.
Elaine Gaskell, International Lead, Resettlement Asylum Support and Integration, UK Government