The Government has recently published an Integrated Communities Strategy green paper which sets out the vision for “building strong integrated communities where people – whatever their background – live, work, learn and socialise together, based on shared rights, responsibilities and opportunities.” While the emphasis of the strategy was on the need for everyone to speak English, it failed to acknowledge that funding for teaching English to speakers of other languages (ESOL) had been cut by 60% since 2009 and didn’t commit additional investment in formal English language provision (see Refugee Action response). The strategy also looked to introduce a new localised approach to integration, working with local authorities to take tailored actions to address specific local challenges in five pilot areas: Blackburn with Darwen, Bradford, Peterborough, Walsall, and Waltham Forest.

On refugees, the strategy acknowledges that resettled refugees receive a comprehensive package of support to help them rebuild their lives and notes “we will work with civil society and others to increase the integration support available to those recognised as refugees after arrival in the UK.” This is a welcome development after funding for programmes which facilitate the integration of refugees who have not been resettled to the UK has either been substantially cut or withdrawn completely in the last few years. The strategy is an opportunity for agencies to define what an integration package looks like for all refugees and ensure this is properly resourced. Individuals and organisations are being invited to share their views on the most effective ways to address integration challenges by 5 June 2018.

The strategy sets out an approach that seeks to develop and share good practice across four strands of integration activity:

  • English language learning
  • Employment
  • Mental health and wellbeing
  • Cultural orientation

Integration & Vulnerability, Resettlement, Asylum Support & Integration Directorate – a joint unit between the Home Office the Department for International Development and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government –  intend to use the consultation responses and the soon-to-be-formed integration stakeholder subgroup to develop the approach going forward in a collaborative way with civil society partners.

The Directorate says: “We hope this is welcome news and look forward to working with many of you to implement this important development in Government policy on refugee integration.

The Integrated Communities Strategy Consultation

The consultation is open to everyone. We and the Integration Strategy Team are keen to hear from a wide range of interested parties from across local government, in the faith, voluntary, community and business sectors, and the general public.

You may respond by completing an online survey at: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/7D2C89V

Alternatively, if you wish to respond in writing, please use the template provided on https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/integrated-communities-strategy-green-paper , or make it clear which questions you are responding to.

You can email your response to the questions in the consultation to: [email protected]

Written responses should be sent to:

Integration Strategy Team

Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government

Second Floor, South East

Fry Building

2 Marsham Street

London

SW1P 4DF

During the consultation, if you have any enquiries, please contact: [email protected]

 

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