Welcoming Syrian Refugees

Page 1


Beachcomber by Alex Rennie


ONLINE GUIDE: bit.ly/2c09TMU Photo: Sarah-Jane Field, 2016, Dunkirk

INTRODUCTION For many of us the scale of the Syrian crisis can seem so overwhelming that we feel powerless to make a difference. But there is something we can do.

There are a number of ways that Syrian refugees might arrive in your area; the principal ones are listed here: 1. The UK Government has pledged to resettle up to 20,000 vulnerable Syrians from countries neighbouring Syria by 2020. This scheme is known as the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (SVPRS). Through this programme Local Authorities are funded to receive vulnerable Syrians who are brought to the UK on a managed basis. Your Local Authority may be resettling Syrians through this scheme.

There are already hundreds of groups who have united their communities into taking action. In doing this they are building on the UK’s extraordinary track record of offering sanctuary to those suffering from persecution. If every community in the UK is motivated to help and given the tools to succeed then together we can set an example to the world of compassionate and successful resettlement.

2. The government has also pledged to resettle up to 3,000 vulnerable children and their families from the Middle East and North Africa by 2020. This scheme is known as the Vulnerable Children’s Resettlement Scheme and, similarly to the SVPRS, your Local Authority may be resettling Syrian’s through it. Unlike the SVPRS, this scheme includes other vulnerable nationalities and a number of unaccompanied minors.

This booklet offers simple guidance on how local individuals, charities and groups in the UK can help welcome refugees into our communities. It explains some of the issues surrounding the process with materials and input from groups around the country. The guide additionally signposts to a wealth of more detailed information contained on the online version: BIT.LY/2c09TMU

3. Some Syrians (as well as other nationalities) arrive in the UK spontaneously and apply to be recognised as refugees. While they are waiting to hear if their application is successful, they are known as asylum seekers. Your Local Authority may be accommodating them while they are awaiting their decision and they may stay after being recognised as refugees.

Together we can make a difference.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead


CONTENTS How to get started

page 2

Community sponsorship

page 13


page 3


page 14

Working with Local Authorities

page 4


page 15


page 6

Unaccompanied Minors

page 16

Providing a welcome

page 8

Final comments

page 16


page 10

Useful contacts

page 16


page 12

HOW TO GET STARTED ORGANISING YOUR TEAM Building a strong team of volunteers is important for success and an organised team is a powerful one.

TRAINING AND ONGOING SUPPORT FOR YOUR VOLUNTEERS: Training can help build understanding of the issues as well as helping to organise your team effectively. It’s worth researching what’s available in your area.

It’s worth checking what other groups exist in your area before you begin so you’re not duplicating efforts. A good place to check is with organisations already involved in the support of arriving refugees such as Citizens UK, Refugees Welcome and City of Sanctuary.

Two organisations that provide training for volunteers are Citizens UK, who can offer free training to teams in the UK, and the British Red Cross, who may be able to provide additional support for your team in the area of safeguarding.

FORMAL STRUCTURE – DO WE NEED TO BECOME A CHARITY? One challenge groups may face is whether to adopt a formal structure. There are several online tools that ask questions about how you want to run your group and then recommend a suitable structure. There are advantages to forming a charity if you want to raise funds and apply for grants, but an unincorporated charitable group or a Community Interest Company may also be worth considering. It is also very possible to work without a formal structure and if you decide to go this route it’s worth checking whether you can work with a local charity and use them for support. The online guide has more details on this.

ONLINE GUIDE: bit.ly/2c09TMU

Contact details for all organisations mentioned can be found at the end of this guide.

“Creating a narrative that appeals to local residents: telling personal stories which people can relate to; this has proven to be the most transformative way increasing support for the cause, and has also meant that more individuals have come forward to offer their help.” Vanessa Miéville, Chair, Just Shelter, Wandsworth


VOLUNTEERS BUILDING A TEAM Some ideas to help build and motivate a volunteer based team:

3. Citizens UK training sessions – once you have 15-25 people on board ask Citizens UK to run a tailored training session for you. These are inspiring and likely to create a stronger, more organised team.

START A FACEBOOK GROUP Remember to set a pinned post at the top of your page detailing your aims and how to contact you.

4. Sharing success – thank you’s are critical to volunteer’s motivation.

HOLD AN OPEN MEETING Book a central local venue (many religious bodies will be happy to give you space at no charge) and create a simple presentation based on the current situation, your aims and what you need in terms of volunteer help.

LOCAL UNIVERSITIES AND COLLEGES These can be a great source of help. They may already have programmes to engage refugee and asylum-seeking children in educational activities.

LOCAL MEDIA Introduce yourself to your local paper – ideally in person. A friend in the local press can help you build your team, fundraise and persuade reluctant locals and officials to help. Don’t rely on a press release.

They have volunteering programmes for students and staff, encouraging them to engage with local community groups and charities Most universities recruit international students and therefore have English language support staff and resources which could potentially be tapped for help, along with potential volunteer translators amongst the student body.

BECOME A SPEAKER Schools, religious groups, local conferences, bookstores etc. look for speakers on newsworthy subjects. If you know enough about the crisis or have a story to tell put yourself out there – it’s a great way to recruit both volunteers and private landlords.

“We used meetings with new volunteers to assess what might be sensible commitments for them and ensure that everyone got something to do – usually in pairs or small teams. These encounters helped establish strong personal relationships and loyalty to the cause.”

MARKETING It’s possible to build a team just by carrying out a poster campaign with details of what your group aims to do, what you need and how to contact you. Aim to get at least 50-100 posters out.

Roger Pask, Chair, Sanctuary in Chichester

TEAM MOTIVATION As volunteers aren’t paid it’s critical to help keep them motivated. A few ways to do this include: 1. Team communication – ensure everyone in your team knows what’s happening via regular updates. 2. Setting team roles and responsibilities – most people want to feel they’re making a useful contribution and so it’s helpful to be clear early on exactly what they’ll be doing.


WORKING WITH LOCAL AUTHORITIES GET IN TOUCH The decision to take in Syrian refugees and unaccompanied children is made at the Local Authority (LA) level and so building a relationship with your LA is critical to welcoming refugees. Many LA’s have already made commitments to accepting families and children and actively want to involve local volunteers.

There are several routes you could take as a first step. One is to call your LA to find out if they already have someone in charge of the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme. Alternatively it’s worth approaching local councillors who might be friendly and/or supportive of refugees. Once you have the name of someone relevant make contact and set up a meeting to introduce your group. This flow chart helps…



Solicit Media Support see “Engaging your Media” in online drive




Build your core team

e.g. 15 families a year

To source accommodation


Increased numbers if they already support

Positive media coverage

Support in helping child refugees in Europe

A hub for interested volunteers

Refer interested volunteers and landlords to you

Provision of buddies, clothing, furniture, additional English lessons, funds etc.

NO Ask Local Authority for meeting


3 Evidence of support: e.g. Facebook Group numbers, Petition, Media coverage, business support etc.

ONLINE GUIDE: bit.ly/2c09TMU

Bring 2-4 people and evidence




Solicit Media Support see “Engaging your Media” in online drive

Find Landlords

“From the first meeting officials recognised the support we could offer in identifying supportive local landlords and letting agents. We developed a welcome plan and built a strong relationship with council officials.”

Useful information can also be found on the Local Government Association LGA website – www.local.gov.uk - where there are sections on Refugees and Unaccompanied Children and contacts as well as the document – Syrian Refugee Resettlement – A Guide for Local Authorities. This is highly recommended reading in advance of a meeting.

Rowan Hughes, UNISON and All Saint’s, Barry

If your LA is reluctant to meet there are some ways to help encourage them in our online guide. These include getting support from a good sized team and include, if possible, evidence of support from local journalists and people of influence such as local MPs and councillors.

“We’ve found working with both Hampshire County Council and the local councils such as East Hampshire and Test Valley District Councils a really positive experience. Having clearly defined roles for all parties involved as well as open channels of communication has helped us find private landlords and welcome families.”

It’s also worth reading “engaging your media”, available online, as support from media can help lend weight to your efforts.

Julia Thistleton, Rural Refugee Network “Accept where you can be of use and where other organisations are better placed to offer support – every area is different.” Ruth Alexander, Pitlochry Refugee Support


HOUSING IMPORTANT THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW One of the biggest issues for many areas is a lack of housing. Whilst quite a few Local Authorities have agreed to use housing already available to them, others may have long waiting lists for social housing, are unwilling for Syrian refugees to displace those on their lists. This is where your group can really help.

There are several pre-requisites for suitable housing. It’s not possible to house Syrian refugee families within your own house (unless they are unaccompanied minors and you are a trained foster carer or supported lodging provider) so you need to look for houses that have their own entrance way/front door.

Whilst some Local Authorities will use housing already available to them, others may have long waiting lists for social housing and be reluctant to displace those on the list.

“We met with the Private Landlords Association and explained the benefits of having refugees as tenants security for five years, as well as support both from our group and from the local authority.”

One of the first things to do is to clarify the situation in your area. The following information will be relevant if your LA would like the help of community groups to source accommodation.

Fran Wood, Chair, Darlington Assistance for Refugees, DAR

Several groups across the country have successfully found altruistic landlords and some of the key tools and guides they’ve used are available in our online version of this guide. Tools include a detailed housing resource from Citizens UK, suggestions for how to find accommodation as well as examples of how to enlist estate agents and an estate agent open meeting presentation and script. An estate agent open meeting is where your team invites all local estate agents to a meeting or event where you present the current situation and ask them to help you find private landlords.

DID YOU KNOW? In Luton letting agents contacted all landlords on their books and dozens of properties were found within hours. Citizens UK housing resource

LOCAL AUTHORITY PERMISSION You’ll need to get permission from your Local Authority before sourcing accommodation as they will need to agree to host within the area. They will also need to sign off the property as suitable as they will need to make sure it meets a set criteria including the locality and if it meets the local housing authority housing benefit rates. If there is a gap between the local housing benefit rates and the open market commercial rate then some local groups have raised funds in order to offer cash incentives and other sweeteners for landlords. Examples of these would be your group taking responsibility to make the accommodation ready for the tenants and offering to meet costs for minor repairs during the course of the tenancy agreement. You can find out your local authority rates using this website www.lha-direct.voa.gov.uk

ONLINE GUIDE: bit.ly/2c09TMU


PRE-REQUISITES FOR SUITABLE HOUSING In addition, some LAs require that the property is within walking distance of a school and a doctor’s surgery but this varies across the UK so check first. More information can be found in the online guide.

“During the first meeting I attended with the inspiring Tonbridge Welcomes Refugees group, I remembered that my parents had taken in Hungarian refugees into their home in 1956 and I thought - I can do something - I can make my house available for use by a Syrian family. This is what has happened and I am very glad that a family is using my house.”

MATCHING A FAMILY TO A PROPERTY Once you’ve found a suitable property and it’s been approved by your Local Authority, they will contact the Home Office to let them know. The Home Office will then match the property with a family who are on the UNHCR (the United Nations Refugee Agency) list as being in most urgent need of re-settlement. These families have all undergone rigorous security checks by the Home Office and UNHCR and will be currently based in the countries surrounding Syria.

Private landlord, Tonbridge Refugees Welcome “By far the easiest and most productive route for accessing homes is to use your local community networks. Do not be afraid to ask civic leaders, including those who lead religious institutions, to circulate call outs for properties.”

Once a family has been assigned to the property it can take anywhere from six weeks to several months until the family arrives. Many volunteer groups work to prepare the property and help find furniture and ensure the houses are welcoming for the families on arrival – but again this varies with each Local Authority.

Oscar Watkins, Brent Action for Refugees


PROVIDING A WELCOME Many Local Authorities have contracts with local service providers such as Refugee Action or the British Red Cross who meet the families on arrival and provide official case-workers.

It is very important to ensure there is as much consistency as possible amongst the range and quality of items provided to each family. It’s very possible that one family may be unhappy if, for instance, they have been donated second hand furniture whereas another family has brand new furniture. A standard inventory of items for each household is provided in the online guide and can help ensure this consistency. The weeks leading up to arrival tend to be extremely busy for those making the arrangements. In some areas this means that any goods being donated need to be in one location for inspection and collection by a given deadline.

These case-workers usually work with the families to assess needs and set up all the benefits and introductions to GPs and schools. There are still many ways for local volunteer groups to help with the welcome and the key thing is to work with your LA and any partners they have to establish where the gaps in provision are. In some areas there are more people who want to help than refugees arriving. In these areas it may be better to direct efforts toward campaigning for more to be resettled, finding additional accommodation or helping other vulnerable groups of people, rather than seeking to directly support the resettled families. Bear in mind that contact with lots of different people who want to help can be overwhelming for the refugees.

The first request for many arriving families is for a working mobile to keep in contact with loved ones not in the UK. A pay-as-you-go mobile and internet dongle can be helpful but it’s not recommended to provide an on-going contract. The family can decide whether they want to commit to on-going contracts after they arrive and they will have access to mainstream welfare through which they can choose to fund this if they wish. Setting up a contract in someone else’s name for them can deprive a refugee of the opportunity to build up a credit history and make it harder for them to borrow money in the future.

These are some of the ways your group may wish to help during the pre-arrival phase. •

provision of furniture and support preparing the accommodation for arrival;

provision of food for fridge and cupboards and toiletries;

provision of a laptop and wifi connection;

a home-cooked hot meal for arrival;

At present there are two ways of welcoming refugees through the SVPRS, either directly via councils or by acting as a Community Sponsor. These two approaches and their criteria may be adapted over the coming months, so please check in with Citizens UK or Migrants Organise who can update you on the latest information and advise regarding how it might affect your work.

provision of Welcome Packs which details how house-hold appliances work and local area information;

DID YOU KNOW? Migrants Organise can help with advice, best practice and that our website will have a section showcasing some of the work currently being undertaken by the refugee welcome committees in a number of different locations. www.migrantsorganise.org

provision of welcome cards and toys from the local community.

ONLINE GUIDE: bit.ly/2c09TMU


OTHER GUIDANCE The UK has a long history of resettling vulnerable refugees and there is much that those involved in resettlement have learnt about what is and is not helpful.

Resettlement can be confusing for refugees and for those supporting them. It’s helpful to develop clear roles and boundaries to avoid unhelpful duplication of work with others such as a Local Authority funded Caseworker. Caseworkers coordinate the support they receive so liaising with them to understand how you can work alongside them is a good way to avoid duplication or confusion. Develop an information sheet (ideally translated into Arabic) setting out what you are offering and the resettlement casework service can advise you how this can be presented to the refugees.

In 2008, the Refugee Council and Refugee Action produced a good practice guide, which is available online here: www.refugee-action.org.uk/resource/goodpractice-guide-gateway-resettlement-programme Refugee Action has also produced a guide to welcoming refugees in your community which you can find here: www.refugee-action.org.uk/resource/can-helpwelcome-new-refugees

“The one thing I’d recommend local groups not to do is give up when the going gets tough. We need local contacts, expertise, buddies, leadership, advocacy, and above all welcoming kindness and privately provisioned properties.”

Citizens UK has developed a very detailed guide to creating a Refugee Welcome Plan. This is available online and includes lots of suggestions to help organise and prepare for arrivals.

Malcolm Little, British Red Cross


INTEGRATION The Citizens UK Refugees Welcome Plan, emphasises that:

“A big factor for us is that the services we have ended up providing have evolved through requests from the Syrians themselves, meaning that we are very confident that we are providing what the families need and want. We have very good relationships and a high degree of mutual trust and friendship with many of the Syrians.”

“We need to plan for the long term, in recognition that many of the most useful activities may take place well beyond the initial reception and orientation period.” The period between arrival and 12-18 months is important for successful resettlement and the best people to offer a sustainable welcome to refugees are local groups and residents of that area.

Savi Maharaj, Stirling Citizens for Sanctuary.

PRACTICAL WAYS TO HELP There are lots of ways your team can help refugees gain independence and they will be very specific to your individual families.

“Providing English language lessons for refugees arriving in the community is vital for integration. The Rural Refugee Network education team has been able to provide weekly hourly English lessons along with practical skills such as writing and posting a letter at the post office. Other opportunities have included skills workshops for sewing, art & craft and cooking. Activities in a local community enable refugees to make friends whilst learning a new language. Refugees really enjoy being part of a community.”

Befriending is important for integration and groups have reported that having 2-3 Befrienders per family works best. Befrienders roles include introducing families to local groups such as women’s groups, prayer groups, refugee community organisations, sports clubs and after school clubs etc. Activities and events can help bring together refugees with their local communities. Examples of activities other groups have had success with include cooking and sewing groups and one-off events around music, food or sport.

Rosie Lennon, Rural Refugee Network

LANGUAGE SKILLS The Government provides English language classes for those arriving under the SVPRS. Befrienders often find that informal and practical learning to supplement these helps make the process of learning English much faster.

“Since getting access to Little Bridge, my daughters have spent hours on the program. They are learning so quickly, their school has noticed. But they’re not focusing on learning English; it’s something that comes while they’re playing. The program helps them understand so much more than the language. It introduces the culture, the people, the life and they want to join this community. My wife is learning English with Little Bridge too!”

There is a wonderful education company, Little Bridge: www. littlebridge.com that offers online English language provision and which has pledged free access to Syrian refugees. The site is aimed at children though has also helped adults across the world learn English and is a great offer to supplement official English lessons and Befriender support.

ONLINE GUIDE: bit.ly/2c09TMU

Imad Alarnab, Syrian refugee


REFUGEES NEED THEIR INDEPENDENCE It has long been acknowledged that refugees are best supported in a way that fosters independence. For instance, rather than drive them somewhere, it can be more helpful to help them learn how to use public transport so they can travel by themselves the next time they need to. Rather than make a phone call for them, it can be more helpful to help them learn the English for a conversation and do the talking themselves. Empowering people in this way helps maintain their self-confidence, which can be undermined if people simply do things for them.

Sadly, for some unscrupulous people, refugees represent a vulnerable group of people who they may seek to exploit. Do be vigilant of anyone acting in a suspicious way around the refugees and seek advice from your Local Authority or the Police if you are worried that exploitation is occurring. To ensure you’re doing all you can to protect the families you should enquire with your Local Authority about undertaking training in safeguarding and how to set up an appropriate safeguarding policy for your group.

SAFEGUARDING THE FAMILIES Bear in mind that any team members who will be supporting the families with regular face-to-face contact must have a current Disclosure Check in place. These can take a while to obtain so do make sure you get these as far in advance as possible. Some local groups have reported that they’ve worked with local established charities to help obtain these cheaply and more quickly.

DID YOU KNOW? For those Syrians ready to enter higher education but unable to access mainstream student loans, look at the Article 26 website which lists universities providing tuition fee waivers and/or bursaries to those seeking asylum.


EMPLOYMENT WHAT ARE THE RIGHTS AND ENTITLEMENTS FOR RESETTLED FAMILIES? Those who are resettled here are given 5 years humanitarian protection allowing them to remain in the UK and have full access to benefits and the right to work before they are able to apply for British Citizenship. Helping refugees get to full independence is a key goal – though many refugees report that it can often take longer than a year to achieve this.

There are several great organisations whose aim is to help in this area - one of which is TERN (The Entrepreneurial Refugee Network) which supports refugees in realising their ambition of starting a business. TERN helps those with a business idea to build, grow and scale-up that plan. It aims to help refugees help themselves by becoming self-sustainable.

Local groups can work to help refugees find work when they feel ready. Ideas include providing assistance in the form of mentors who can help work on CVs, interview preparation as well as talking to local employees about job and work experience opportunities.

More information on TERN, Little Bridge, the role of and feedback from Befrienders and details of how to set up an effective Education Team are available on the online drive. Contact details are provided at the end of this guide.


“Being able to secure stable employment and income is so important, but people fleeing intensely traumatic situations obviously face additional barriers. A sensitive and tailored approach is immensely valuable.”

“Refugees are often highly skilled professionals, with successful careers that have been disrupted by conflict, as such it is important that their potential to contribute economically and socially to our communities is not wasted but encouraged.”

Damian Hinds MP, Minister of State for the Department of Work and Pensions

Ben Fraser Founder, TERN.

ONLINE GUIDE: bit.ly/2c09TMU


COMMUNITY SPONSORSHIP A BIGGER COMMITMENT FOR YOUR GROUP MAY BE TO CONSIDER COMMUNITY SPONSORSHIP. The Community Sponsorship Scheme was launched by the government to enable community groups, including charities, faith groups, churches and businesses, to take on the role of supporting resettled refugees in the UK.

CANADA HAS WELCOMED MORE THAN 288,000 REFUGEES THROUGH COMMUNITY SPONSORSHIP SINCE THE 1970S. As the Canadian example has shown, becoming a community sponsor of refugees can be an immensely rewarding experience.

You are capable of filling in all the forms, drawing up a resettlement plan and liaising with the relevant officials. For more info, visit www.refugees-welcome.org.uk or contact communitysponsorship@citizensuk.org

“Working with Refugee Welcome teams across Britain has been a rewarding experience for me. I often get calls from community leaders asking me what they can do to welcome refugees. They are right to ask this. If we don’t do it, who will? If we don’t do it today, when will we? Community Sponsorship is a good scheme. Go for it.”

If you are keen to get involved these are the key criteria: •

You can devote sufficient time to orientation, training etc. so that you are equipped to be a sponsoring group.

You are a highly motivated and committed group of people who want to personally welcome and support a newcomer family into your neighbourhood.

Bekele Woyecha, Community Organiser, Citizens UK

You have experience and skills within your group to welcome and support newcomers as they build a new life.

“‘As one of the first community sponsors in the UK, I can confirm that the experience has been completely transformative for my community. It gave us the opportunity to do something hopeful at a time when we weren’t sure how to help and has brought together different elements in our community in extraordinary ways. Whatever we have given has been returned ten-fold by the most remarkable, inspirational and resilient family I have ever met.”

You can make a commitment of up to two years. You are a registered charity or can partner with a registered charity. You can find appropriate independent accommodation for a newcomers family for a two-year period without help from the local authority.

Major Nick Coke, The Salvation Army

You can demonstrate that you have funds amounting to £4,500 per adult refugee or £9,000 for a family and two children. You can gain consent to operate as a community sponsorship group from your local authority.



“We found that our fund-raising events also raised awareness of the crisis and kept the plight of refugees alive in people’s minds.” Vanessa Miéville, Chair, Just Shelter, Wandsworth

Cash incentives for landlords

GRANTS AND TRUSTS It’s worth researching grants available. Applying can be timeconsuming but if you build up a good relationship with a grant provider it will help you become more sustainable. If you want to apply for grants you’ll need to develop a budget and also a simple background document on your organisation.

Furniture/house preparation/food for arrivals (some LA’s will pay for these, others welcome support) Additional items considered luxuries such as a laptop, or bicycle

The online drive includes an example budget, grant application form and fundraising strategy document as the basis for ideas.

Additional English language support Set up of introduction events such as a community BBQ or sports event

ASYLUM SEEKER SUPPORT Whereas resettled refugees receive funded support from the government, people who are granted refugee status through the asylum system do not receive any government funded integration support. Asylum seekers are usually not allowed to work and many are forced into poverty, and even destitution and homelessness at points in the asylum process. Some groups may choose to raise money for these refugees whose needs are likely to be greater. More information about how to support these groups of people can be found by contacting Refugee Action or the British Red Cross.

Membership of community groups for example Scouts/ Guides, football or swimming club Set up of integration and skills learning programmes which can reduce isolation as well as increase English skills and employability. Examples include a sewing or painting and decorating initiative Community Sponsorship

Some groups may prefer not to raise funds themselves and choose to work with a local charity who can provide funds for them. Fundraising ideas range from small events such as coffee mornings to larger scale ones such as sponsored walks and evening events.

ONLINE GUIDE: bit.ly/2c09TMU


PUBLICITY HOW TO GET SUPPORT USING MEDIA AND SIMPLE MARKETING Developing a marketing strategy is a useful way to help your team to grow and also to keep volunteers updated on all the latest developments.

REFUGEES AND CONFIDENTIALITY Everyone has the right to a private life. Many refugees will have had horrible experiences and some may still be at risk in the UK, for instance from people who perpetrate hate crimes. For this reason a Local Authority and charities providing resettlement casework will not disclose their addresses or other information about them. It is really important for their safety and right to privacy that confidentiality is respected.

It can also help dispel the many myths that can surround new refugee arrivals, as well as assist with fundraising and gain valuable local support for your group. The marketing methods groups have reported as most useful are: •

“We scoured the local newspapers for journalists that might be open to helping and then called and asked the journalist for coffee. Creating a personal relationship has led to incredible support – leading to three front covers being dedicated to the search for private landlords and supported lodging and foster carers.”

social media Facebook/Twitter etc. websites and media including regional newspapers, radio, online and television outlets posters/fliers when needed for events and open meetings

The online drive contains more advice in this area as well as well as sample press releases and a guide to social media.

Julia Thistleton, Rural Refugee Network

Do be aware that the prospect of housing refugee families in your area may not be universally popular. Take care how you phrase your publicity material and get other members of your team to check it before it goes public.

“Sometimes online social media criticism can give us the opportunity to clarify our communications, or set out a robust and informative response that will help us garner more support in the longer term. When people raise legitimate concerns, we should be prepared to answer them with a polite, reasoned answer.”

Please check with all parties before using any photographs and posting on social media and take care not to disclose any confidential or identifying information.

Susanna Bennett, Camden Welcomes Refugees




Unaccompanied minors are children without the presence of a legal guardian. In 2016, 30,000 unaccompanied asylum seeking children arrived in Europe and thousands are still stuck in makeshift camps, sleeping rough and at risk of exploitation across Europe.

LITTLE BRIDGE www.littlebridge.com

Some of these children have family in Britain but are unable to access their legal right to reunion (Dublin III agreement).

CITIZENS UK REFUGEES WELCOME www.refugees-welcome.org.uk

Citizens UK’s Safe Passage project is working to help identify and support unaccompanied children in Europe to reunite with family in Britain, and working with local groups to campaign to re-open the Dubs scheme following the Government’s announcement that it would close at the end of 2016/17 financial year.

CITY OF SANCTUARY cityofsanctuary.org

BRITISH RED CROSS www.redcross.org.uk

TERN www.wearetern.org RRN www.ruralrefugeenetwork.org hello@ruralrefugeenetwork.org

For the children who do make it to Britain, work is needed to help them to rebuild their lives and connect them with services in their local areas. Groups are also helping to build foster care capacity locally, and connect children with services and activities.

UNIVERSITY OF WINCHESTER www.winchester.ac.uk UNHCR www.unhcr.af

For information on how to get involved in all of the above contact Citizens UK.

REFUGEE ACTION www.refugee-action.org.uk

“Sir Nicky Winton, to whom I owe my life for rescuing me from Prague, used to say: ‘If something is not impossible, then there must be a way to do it.’ Across the world many countries are closing their doors to refugees. Winton’s words should remind us that it was the actions of ordinary people that have kept Britain’s longstanding humanitarian tradition alive – today, again, we can do more.”

REFUGEE COUNCIL www.refugeecouncil.org.uk MIGRANTS ORGANISE www.migrantsorganise.org

Lord Alf Dubs

ONLINE GUIDE: bit.ly/2c09TMU


WHY ORGANISE? “I trained as a professional community organiser in 1989 in Chicago, at the same time as Barack Obama. Since then I, and a growing number of like-minded citizens, have spent 20 years fine-tuning and teaching the art of organising communities that form the fabric of civil society – and encouraging them all to work together for the common good. This guide has been put together by some of those individuals and teams we’ve been working with. In the current political climate it is more important than ever for us to be welcoming refugees and supporting individuals and groups in that endeavour. I believe this guide provides the necessary first steps and tools to groups helping to resettle Syrian families under the SVPRS but also importantly provides help for those looking to help other groups of refugees and asylum seekers.”

Amal by Layla Andrews

Neil Jameson, CBE, Executive Director, Citizens UK




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