Refugee Support Project

Most young refugees have no family in the UK and may not know of the whereabouts of relatives in a war-torn home country.

Making the UK their new country requires an understanding of their distinct support needs and the incorporation of these needs into each refugee’s immigration support plan at an early stage.

Furthermore, reconnection believes that young refugees must not be expected to change their values and behaviours to “fit in” with mainstream society. We need to be clear that we are not talking about conformity with a homogenous set of norms and values within a mono-cultural society, but participation in a multicultural Britain with shared values of “rule of law, democracy, tolerance, equal treatment for all, respect for this country and its shared heritage” (Tony Blair).

Many refugees expect to live in the UK for a long time and naturally want to build a new life in the UK, including learning English, being educated, being respected and finding a job.

The aim of this project is, firstly to explore how their temporary leave to remain or pending application for leave to remain in the UK affects their ability to plan their future and secondly to support them in their immigration application process.

Experience shows that refugees experience insecurity, and the duration and intensity of this situation affects their health. Besides, refugees’ documentation is likely to state that their “leave will expire” or “an appeal to extend is pending” and this may expose agencies such as housing providers, employers, educational institutions, benefits providers etc. to the fear of getting things wrong.

Uncertain of what is and is not, permitted, they may deny refugees services unnecessarily.

The fact that many refugees come from countries where officials are at best avoided at worst to be feared affects their interaction with others. Coming to the UK, their instincts are to view all those who interact with them as “officials”.

Their first encounter on entering the UK is probably an immigration official whose manner is unlikely to give confidence to a newcomer in a strange and perceived hostile environment.

Therefore, for a refugee to confide information on possibly traumatic past events, trust has to be established and developed with the confidant. This can take a long time and, even after several years, a full and accurate account may not be forthcoming.

Furthermore, despite the communication revolution, many service providers and the general public remain poorly informed about refugee flow's scale, scope and socio-economic context.

One of the most consistent findings is the overestimation of the absolute numbers of refugees and this is a challenge to this project in providing adequate support.

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