Over the last year there has been an increasing focus on providing a safe home and a viable future for refugees from all over the world. A number of big brands have been keen to hire refugees, not only as part of their ethical business practice, but to spot and nurture the new talent that is now in the UK as a result of the current crisis.
Ikea, Starbucks and Air BnB are only a few of the multinational businesses with tangible values that have set up programmes for refugees. And it’s not only the big players that are hiring. SMEs are also showing their ethical credentials by inviting a number of refugees to join their teams.
One example is the Pants Cafe in Penryn. They opened up their workforce last year when they started working with Zahar, a chef from Damascus. I spoke with Zahar and Pants MD Jeannette Preston about why she decided to work with START (Students and Refugees Together) in Cornwall. You can see our interview here.
Help Refugees embrace entrepreneurship
There are also specialised entrepreneur refugee programmes in place. Ben & Jerry’s has joined TERN (The International Refugee Network) to set up ICE Academy, a professional development programme for refugees. This programme runs from May 2018 through to August and is aimed at refugees who want to explore starting their own business. Although this is a London based programme, it should be replicated nation-wide. Worth contacting your local council about? I think so!
If you are an SME or community group thinking about supporting refugees, there are a number of organisations that may be able to help. The following list was kindly passed to me by Irina Bormotova, from Elevate.
Provides grants up to three years. The foundation is interested in funding work which benefits people e.g. asylum seekers/refugees. They fund projects e.g. advice/information, advocacy, arts activities and befriending.
Funding programmes available include refugee and asylum – seeking women.
A small scheme aimed at schools and community groups which concern the environment and involve people from ethnic communities.
Makes grants for projects that address disadvantages and in particular wants to support projects that address, among others, asylum seekers and refugees.
Funds well managed projects which help to relieve poverty, and support disadvantaged people.
Works in four sectors, including Social Welfare and Development – improved quality of life for older people and improved opportunities for refugees to cross into and contribute to mainstream society.