In March of 2021, the UK Home Office published the New Plan for Immigration. The plan’s goal is to build an effective asylum and migration system, which includes an Enhanced Integration Package (EIP) to ‘support refugees to integrate and become self-sufficient more quickly.’ The core element of the package is to provide tailored and flexible employment support to refugees as they adjust to life in England.
That critical support will be provided through the 2-year long Refugee Employability Programme (REP), which Palladium recently won for the South East of England. “In bidding for this program, Palladium combined its depth of experience as a leader in global humanitarian delivery with our growing employability footprint in the UK,” explains Amelia Prestage, Director for Palladium’s refugee work in the UK.
“As the provider of the UK’s humanitarian overseas response operations for the last 6 years, we are ideally placed to bring this knowledge and capability back into the UK, to support refugees here. There is a pressing need to embed humanitarian principles in domestic refugee support, and we are excited to be part of REP,” Prestage adds.
Becky Brocklehurst, Palladium Regional Director for the Restart scheme (the Department for Work and Pensions’ flagship program to help long-term unemployed people back to work) says that in many ways REP will be similar to Restart, but with a few key differences. “Unlike Restart where people are referred to us through job centres, our team will need to generate those referrals on our own, which means connecting and working with organisations that are already working with refugees.”
“We’ll be working closely with local government and the voluntary and community sector because many of these organisations are already trusted by and working with refugee groups; and we want to make sure we enhance (not duplicate) this essential support by working in partnership.”
But REP is about more than just getting people into jobs. The program is focused on refugee groups who have been given indefinite leave to remain in the country and need help integrating into their new communities. “Our work will include supporting people with learning English, providing mental health support, and addressing any other barriers to integration they may be facing,” Brocklehurst explains.
Since the fall of Kabul in August 2021, the UK has welcomed over 22,000 people from Afghanistan, many of whom need critical support as they integrate into life in a new country.
The team will work on a case management basis, assessing needs and creating personal development plans to identify and address integration and employment barriers—all while maintaining meaningful and frequent contact with individuals over time. “Each refugee will have up to 18 months of support, which will be determined by the length of time needed to truly integrate, and which we will expect to vary,” adds Brocklehurst.
“We’ll look at every aspect of people’s lives, from their family to education and beyond, to understand where they are and any complications or barriers they may be facing in order to help them through their journey of integration into work and everything that goes with it.”
She adds that whether her team is helping people to find work or supporting a refugee with integration, what’s critical is that they truly want to make a difference and they have an innate belief in people and their ability to grow and blossom. “We’re all really excited to get to work on this and I think we have a lot to bring to the table and offer these people at this critical point in their lives.”
The Refugee Employment Programme is preparing refugees for work and life in England. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.