This sections aims to provide information on different services and projects aimed at improving asylum seekers and refugees' experience in Southampton.
Following the termination of the NASS contract in 2004, dispersal has been arranged through regional housing partnerships. Currently, Clearsprings Management Ltd. has procured a contract with the Home Office to provide housing to asylum seekers in the area (City Council Housing Strategy 2007-2011). The Southampton and Winchester Visitors Group was originally set up to support the detainees in the Haslar Detention Centre. Since 2004 has been running a housing assistance program for destitute asylum seekers. In cooperation with local churches and associations it aims to campaign and provide assistance against destitution.
A number of partnerships were set up with local housing providers for refugees under the auspices of the Southampton City Council: HACT, the housing development agency, has established one of its 'Accommodate - the Refugee Housing Partnership Project' partnerships in Southampton. 'Accommodate' seeks to develop and support local partnerships which focus on improving the housing situations of refugees and which act as models of best practice to others. The lead partner is Eastleigh Homechoice and other organisations involved in the partnership include Atlantic Housing, Refugee Action, City Life Education and Action for Refugees, and Southampton City Council.
The Wheatsheaf Trust provides job seekers with many opportunities to enter the labour market. Working alongside City Council on the "Connecting Communities Project", it deals with refugees and asylum seekers on a range of different aspects.
The New Communities Team in the Southampton City Council deals with employment issues and works in partnership with local organizations like Southampton Action for Employment (SAFE) to provide guidance, training and individual support to asylum seekers and refugees in need of work. The New Communities Team and other organizations undertook research in 2003 to identify the skills and resources that asylum seekers and refugees may bring into the local labour market. Its findings coincide with other research on the topic: asylum seekers and refugees consulted for the report identified lack of information on the UK job market, insufficient access to ESOL classes, and skills updating as the main barriers to employment. Consequently the report calls for local partnerships with colleges and schools to provide ESOL classes integrated with employment and skills training (City Council, Refugees Skills Audit 2003 ). In recent years, the Council has focused more on the arrival of a large number of Polish and East European economic migrants who moved to the area following the expansion of the EU in 2004.
There are a number of initiatives, led mainly by the Southampton City Council, that seek to improve access to English lessons for those with English as an Additional Language (EAL) needs; as well as initiatives to teach community languages to ethnic minority children; finally, identify and support the specific needs of asylum seeking and refugee populations. These services are mainly aimed at children in the school system, while teaching for adults is carried out mainly by local organisations, such as City Life Education & Action for Refugees (CLEAR).
The Community Languages Service is responsible for the teaching of community languages for children from minority ethnic communities in the city and the neighbouring authorities of Portsmouth and Hampshire. This is a partnership initiative between the three education authorities and the community groups who organise the classes. The service supports the teaching of a wide range of community languages. In addition to major Asian languages, lessons are also given in Afghani, Arabic, Chinese, Farsi, Malay, Nepali, Somali, Turkish as well as other European languages. Currently, there are classes for children from the Albanian, Greek, Italian and Polish communities.
The Education Services of the Southampton City Council has a specific programme of educational support for refugees, asylum seekers and those with refugee backgrounds. It consists of a team of trained bilingual assistants and an advisor. The team works in partnership with schools and minority ethnic communities to meet the needs of learners for whom English is an additional language.
The Hampshire Ethnic Minority Achievement Service (EMA) service aims to support schools and families across Hampshire in raising ethnic minority achievement through projects, training and advisory support. Additionally, it offers bilingual assistance to schools with newly arrived pupils for whom English is an additional language (EAL). The service's website has an area dedicated to providing information about refugee and asylum issues to schools and also information about the education system to refugee and asylum seeking parents.
The New Communities Team in the Southampton City Council works in partnership with statutory and charitable agencies on a Strategic Action Plan for New Communities through its Thematic Action Groups. Their work involves employment, job creation and training for refugees and asylum seekers, as well as advice on legal, housing, health, employment matters and interpretation services. Wherever possible the Team seeks to involve refugee representatives in this process. It has organised a wide range of activities and initiatives to improve community relations locally, including formal and informal meetings between representatives of different communities, recreational trips and social events bringing together different ethnic and religious groups. The team also provides support to individual members of new communities to help with integration and, working with the Wheatsheaf Trust, to help members of new communities access services and gain access to the labour market.
City Life Education & Action for Refugees (CLEAR) aims to increase the quality of life for asylum seekers and refugees in Southampton. The project operates on many levels and is one of the main organisations in the area. It offers one to one support and befriending and practical help; engages in advocacy and research; provides English teaching (in a group setting, and for vulnerable women, in their own home); and organises leisure activities.
Reconstituted in 2006, the Multi Agency Group on Racial Harassment (MAGRH) umbrella group seeks to monitor hate crime and other issues surrounding integration policies, in partnership with the Southampton City Council's New Communities team and major associations working in the Southampton area. They developed a Hate Crime Strategy to further encourage reporting of individual incidents and provide training to key workers, Crown Prosecutors and schools so as to prevent, monitor and report hate crime. An annual report summarises their findings in the period of 2005-2006: MAGRH Annual Report 2007
Last Updated: 25/02/09