As Refugee Week begins, Cllr Tristan Chatfield, Cabinet Member for Social Inclusion, Community Safety and Equalities, highlights how the city and its partners help refugees arriving in Birmingham to integrate with local communities.
Birmingham is a friendly, cosmopolitan city which is proud of the warm welcome it extends to people from all corners of the globe, regardless of their situation.
As well as being the most ethnically diverse regional city in the UK – with a population made up of 187 different nationalities – Birmingham is also a City of Sanctuary, welcoming refugees from war-torn areas, such as Syria.
However, the challenges they face when arriving in the West Midlands put them at risk of exploitation – as they are twice as likely to be unemployed, have little or no knowledge of public health messages or their rights, so struggle to access services.
MiFriendly Cities, a regional initiative launched earlier this month, is part of the work we do with partners across the wider region to support migrants arriving and settling here. Eleven project partners from public, private and voluntary sectors in Birmingham, Coventry and Wolverhampton, are working together to create new work opportunities and support migrant communities.
It received €4 million from the EU’s Urban Innovative Actions Fund, which will help create new work opportunities and support migrant communities across the region. It will be invested in a wide range of initiatives including a £70,000 fund to support new social enterprises, and £80,000 funding pot for grassroots projects in areas such as healthcare, employment and housing.
Refugees are often vulnerable and need support in finding a place of safety, but we also help them integrate with the local community, through language courses, signposting to essential services. Alongside this work, we also tackle the impact migration has the services used by the local community.
Birmingham City Council also received nearly £1m from the Controlling Migration Fund (CMF), which will help boost integration by tackling issues such as exploitation by rogue landlords in the private rented sector and modern day slavery.
A series of events are being staged across the city during Refugee Week (18-24 June) celebrating the skills and talents within these communities, as well as highlighting the challenges they face.
Spoken word artists, writers and musicians will come together to celebrate the campaign’s 20th birthday, with a party at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery on Thursday (21 June). The week also includes a Refugee Week Festival at the mac – featuring artists in exile – alongside a Picnic in the Park in Cannon Hill Park on Saturday (23 June).
- More information about Refugee Week 2018 and what’s happening in Birmingham can be found here: http://refugeeweek.org.uk/