In response to the Commission on Integration and Cohesion’s report ‘Building united and resilient communities – developing shared futures’ published today, Donna Covey, Chief Executive of the Refugee Council said:
“The report’s recommendation to restrict funding for community organisations doesn’t reflect the reality of life for refugees in the UK. These are people who have been forced to flee their homes, have experienced torture and persecution, have seen family and friends killed or have been forced to leave them behind. Refugee community organisations can be a lifeline for people, helping them to feel safe and enabling them to rebuild their lives. In this way, they often serve to increase people’s interaction in their community rather than encourage isolation.
“These organisations rarely act in isolation from one another – in fact, they often act as a vehicle to meet other communities and share information. They are also a way for otherwise often disadvantaged and marginalised groups to have a voice and to play an active part in the democratic process.
“We welcome the Commission’s request that the DfES reconsiders its plans to cut down on the provision of English language classes, but stress that translated materials are also essential. Cutting down on translated materials carries serious risks to people’s health and well-being if it means they cannot access essential public services.
“Fostering trust, providing language classes and offering opportunities for communities to interact meaningfully with each other should reduce the need for translated materials.”