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Asylum & Refugees

Priorities

Priority A - To promote the emotional wellbeing and mental health of asylum seekers and refugees

We propose that WG create a consultation group of stakeholders from NGO’s, RCO’s, Faith groups and other groups that are actively engaging with asylum seekers and refugees at a local level, to investigate the development of a counselling service for refugees led by trained refugee volunteers. The African Refugee Development Centre in Tel Aviv could be a successful model to emulate. This initiative could support refugees and asylum seekers overcome the trauma of dislocation and the post traumatic stress many feel on arrival in the UK, and also provide valuable work experience and training for refugees. It could be accommodated in a number of existing refugee community initiatives already in place in Cardiff, Newport, Swansea and Wrexham.

Priority B - For all WG politicians to campaign positively to promote acceptance and minimize intolerance of asylum seekers and refugees

We propose that all WG parties publicly support the initiative to make Wales a Nation of Sanctuary, and to be clear when campaigning not to confuse issues surrounding migrant workers with asylum seekers and refugees.

Priority C - To further promote refugee inclusion

Restoring a sense of belonging is very important in enabling refugees and asylum seekers to contribute positively in the receiving community. We propose that WG develop, recognise, and engage with Faith groups and other voluntary groups who make significant local contributions to restoring a refugee’s sense of belonging. Strong local partnerships between statutory bodies, local authorities and the voluntary sector to further promote refugee inclusion need to be strengthened. In particular, local faith groups and other local voluntary groups could work alongside WG in delivering outcomes of projects such as the Gateway refugee resettlement programme.

Priority D - To reduce poverty amongst refugee children

Many refugees, particularly those most vulnerable with young children, suffer considerable hardship whilst waiting several months for the processing of child benefit and child tax credits. We request that the WG engage with DWP and JCP to bring down timescales locally in the processing of these key benefits.

Priority E - To enable Refugees to access Higher Education

Many refugees flee their country of origin and are unable to document their previous education, and many also lack academic English. These can be barriers to accessing Higher education. Therefore, to enable more refugees to fulfil their potential and contribute positively to society, we propose that WG work alongside the Higher Education establishments in Wales to set up Access courses specifically aimed at enabling refugees to access Higher Education. Initially, this would probably start in Cardiff but could be expanded to Swansea and Newport if there was demand.

Christian Context

Bible verses:

  • Luke 4 v18 Proclaim liberty and set the captives free
  • Hebrews 13 – hospitality to angels
  • Mat 25 – the sheep and the Goats
  • Leviticus – and others – you were once strangers in Egypt, you should welcome foreigners
  • Jesus himself started life as a refugee, fleeing genocide in Israel following God appearing in a dream to his parents.

The group recognised that UKBA and other issues surrounding asylum lay in the control of Westminster. However, 5 proposals covering, mental health, Education, campaigning, refugee inclusion, and refugee poverty were agreed upon following discussion of issues facing refugees in these areas. No other proposals were discussed.

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