In February 2009 Donna Covey (Chief Executive of Refugee Council), Sandy Buchan (Chief Executive of Refugee Action), and Fazil Kawani (Head of Development Section Refugee Council) met with Sadiq Khan MP (Minster for Communities and Local Government), and his officials from the CLG.
The aim of the meeting was to discuss the adverse impact that the CLG’s draft Cohesion Guidance for Funders* has had on refugee community organisations (RCOs), and to agree ways that the Refugee Council and Refugee Action can contribute to the Government’s guidance for local authorities about positive engagement with RCOs – understanding their role in community cohesion and contribution to refugee integration.
At the meeting, the Refugee Council and Refugee Action highlighted the key challenges and barriers facing numerous RCOs, and agreed to work with the CLG to provide good case studies about how RCOs contribute to refugee integration, and promote community cohesion through their services.
In order to improve the CLG’s new guidance for local authorities and the way they engage with RCOs locally to support their work, the following outcomes were agreed:
1. Commitment for the Refugee Council, Refugee Action, Home Office/UKBA and CLG officials to meet to discuss the process for developing a possible new national indicator relevant to refugee and asylum seeker groups for the next spending cycle, as part of wider consultation on the National Indicator Set for 2011. Local areas choose up to 35 of these indicators for their Local Area Agreement, against which specific targets are negotiated with Government.
2. The CLG strongly supported the dissemination of good practice to ensure that local authorities engage with local RCOs fairly and effectively, and that RCOs are involved with consultation and local decision making. The Minister asked if the Refugee Council could identify examples of good practice within the refugee sector about how Local Authorities engage local RCOs so that this could be shared with local authorities across the country.
4. The CLG agreed to consider examples of RCO case studies for inclusion in future relevant community cohesion guidance or in the single good practice portal. These RCO examples would aim to help local authorities and other funders to understand the diverse ways in which RCOs can contribute to community cohesion.
5. The CLG agreed to identify examples of good practice with regard to how Local Strategic Partnerships (LSPs) have effectively involved RCOs. The Refugee Council also agreed to provide the CLG with “good practice” guidance on how RCOs can effectively engage with their LSPs.
*See Cohesion Guidance for Funders at www.communities.gov.uk/publications/communities/cohesionfundersconsultation
For further information, contact Fazil Kawani, Refugee Council Head of Development on 020 7346 6761 or by email.