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Reaction: UK's refugee scheme extended!

After a campaign running 12 months and spanning the country Citizens UK leaders are celebrating after hearing that the Government's refugee resettlement scheme is being extended.

Citizens UK leaders pledged to continue welcoming refugees in their communities.

Reverend Cathy Wiles, All Saints West Dulwich, said: “This morning we proudly welcomed Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes to our church to meet with refugee families and local organisations who have helped integrate 27 refugee families to our Borough of Lambeth.

Today’s announcement is welcome news and means thousands of families, who desperately need this lifeline, can arrive in the UK via safe and legal routes. However, this should be the first step in a longer commitment if refugee resettlement, including Community Sponsorship, is to flourish.”

Barbara Wilson, Lambeth Refugees Welcomes and leader with Citizens UK, said: “We’re grateful that the Government today announced a one-year extension for the scheme and that families arriving via Community Sponsorship are additional to the overall Government target. We’re hopeful that this will act as a great incentive for more voluntary groups to take part in refugee resettlement and help bring families to safety.”

Leaders meet Caroline Nokes at a private visit to a South London Citizens church this morning

What the changes mean:

  • We've been calling for an extension of the scheme and the Government has committed to a further 5,000 refugees in 2020/21 as part of a New Global Scheme which brings together existing VPRS and VCPR schemes. We're currently awaiting further details of exactly how this scheme will work.

 

  • Community Sponsorship of refugees by groups of individuals is going to be on top of these numbers.  This is something we have been calling for and is crucial since all the work of planning resettlement, fundraising and welcoming families is done by the community in this case, so shouldn't be included in the Government run figures for resettlement. Find out how communities are doing this at SponsorRefugees.org

 

  • The Home Office has confirmed that people from other countries facing conflict and oppression will be included in this scheme. It was originally set up primarily to help Syrian people fleeing the conflict in their homeland. This is positive news as it allows the flexibility for refugees to come from both existing conflicts but also new areas where trouble may flare up and the UK needs to meet humanitarian need.

Read more for background on how refugee resettlements are going on around the UK.

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Citizens leaders publish "Creating a Fair Work Economy" findings

Community leaders from Citizens UK local alliances in Tyne and Wear, London, Nottingham and Milton Keynes have published a report following a listening campaign that saw them have one-to-one conversations and hold workshops with over 700 workers affected by low pay, insecure hours and in-work poverty.

The listening campaign served two purposes: to identify both the hardships faced, but also the solutions needed to break people out of the in-work poverty trap.



Workers told us about having their shifts cancelled on their way to work or the day before: making it impossible to budget. We were told about the power that shift-setting gives managers over employees with no or few guaranteed hours and how this can be abused.

But there are solutions. We welcome the Living Hours standard set by the Living Wage Foundation and draw hope from the campaign for the real Living Wage – championed by our institutions at Citizens UK and over 5,000 employers across the country – which demonstrates what can happen when workers, communities and employers work together.

Read the full report here.

 

The Living Wage Foundation is encouraging employers to guarantee at least 16 hours a week where the worker wants security - and a minimum notice period of 4 weeks before shift cancellation. Find out more.

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London Citizens schools publish investigation into the hostile environment's impact on pupils and urge change

Leaders from London Citizens member schools reveal the impact of the UK government's 'hostile environment' policy on the emotional and academic wellbeing of pupils growing up in the UK without British citizenship, following an extensive listening campaign and research exercise across eight primary and secondary schools, as well as sixth form colleges in the capital. 

The research and report, completed in partnership with undergraduate students from the UCL Institute of Education, includes the findings of a survey among Headteachers and a number of case studies on the implications of the hostile environment for children, parents and staff alike. Read the full report here.

Today, leaders from the schools leading this work are holding a public action in Westminster to share their stories through poems and plays and call on the Children's Minister to meet London Citizens in person to discuss our asks:

  1. To make Pupil Premium and Free School Meals available to all school children in need, regardless of the immigration status of their parents;
  2. Investigate and redress the harmful impacts of the hostile environment on children's academic and emotional wellbeing.

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Are refugees still welcome? A blog from Hani

My name is Hani and I'm from Syria. My family and I arrived in Devon in 2017 after escaping the war in our home country and living in a limbo and hardship in Jordan for several years.

We've grasped this second chance at life with joy. Since arriving here, I've found a job as a gardener and my wife has given birth to our third child

 

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Radical housing pledges announced at Waltham Forest Citizens 2019 Assembly

  • Waltham Forest Council more than doubles their commitment to build social rent homes: from 1200 in 2018 by 2022, to 2800 in 2019by 2022
  • Cllr Miller, Cabinet Member for Economic Development and High Streets, agrees to work with Waltham Forest Citizens to find first 2 sites for permanently affordable Community Land Trust sites in the Borough in the next year.

  • School and College pupils take centre stage in drama to highlight the impact of youth violence on their friends and peers.

 

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Media coverage of Founding Assembly

BBC Points West covered the Founding Assembly: https://youtu.be/xiFgmBuLFoI

As did BBC Radio Somerset, Somerset County Gazette and The Wells Journal!

And here's a write-up from The Diocese of Bath and Wells, one of our founding members:

https://www.bathandwells.org.uk/2019/03/citizens-somerset-launched-after-four-years-of-hard-work/

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‘High energy and a new way of working to win change’

By Revd Dr Susan Durber

Minister, Taunton United Reformed Church; and Moderator of Faith and Order Commission, WCC

I am used to going to meetings of a few people, often in large rooms, and feeling that the energy has to come from me. So being part of the Citizens Founding Assembly was a real contrast! The room was packed and the energy level was high. After years (honestly, years..) of building up to this moment I was aware of how tired I was, but the meeting was stirring and energising.

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Citizens Somerset Founding Assembly

By John Haines, Taunton Deane and South Sedgemoor Methodist Circuit

 

280 people turned out on a late winter midweek evening to come to the Founding Assembly for Citizens Somerset, the latest Chapter to be established under the umbrella of Citizens UK.  Hosted by Richard Huish College in Taunton they were engaging in this latest venture of community organising, demonstrating that people are genuinely interested in active expressions of local democracy, whatever the frustrations with national politics at this time.

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"Fair Welcome, Fair Work" pledged at Accountability Assembly

158 people attended Citizens:mk’s annual Accountability Assembly at the City Church on 25th April 2019, representing 17 member institutions and many other MK organisations. Continue reading to find out what our highlights have been!

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Pupil Blog: Why i'm proud my school launched the Just Change campaign with Tyne & Wear Citizens

By Luke, Year 10 pupil at Park View School, Member of Tyne & Wear Citizens 

I started participating in this campaign in November 2017, when one of my teachers approached me asking if I wanted to speak at the Tyne & Wear Citizens assembly about my experience of Free School Meals.

My teacher explained that many pupils on Free School Meals noticed that the way the meals system works further disadvantages them in some ways, rather than bridging the gap between their more privileged peers, because they’re unable to keep their lunch change.

 

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