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Business Grants to Support Companies Hiring Refugees

Business grants for RefugeesReading Time: 2 minutes

 

Business Funding for Refugees

 

By Zoe Allen, Sona Circle

Hiring Refugees: Funding for Your Business

 

Having discovered the benefits of hiring refugees, you might be interested in exploring some avenues that could provide extra funding for a new hire. For training schemes, like apprenticeships, there is government funding available, and you may also be able to access other grants specific to your local area or sector. 

Funding for Apprentices

In our recent blog, we introduced the UK Apprenticeship Levy and how you can access funding for apprentices in the UK, including those from minority or disadvantaged backgrounds. You can read the post here for more. 

In addition to this initiative, local authorities sometimes provide grants for growth and new recruitment, including apprentices.

Funding for Graduates

If you are looking to hire a refugee who is also a UK university graduate, there are several grants and funding opportunities to assist with this. 

For example, a Knowledge Transfer Partnership could work for you if you want to run a particular project, or the Santander SME internships programme is a fantastic scheme that supports anyone to access an internship with a UK SME but gives priority and extra funding to (under)graduates from disadvantaged backgrounds. 

You’ll need to be in contact with a university near you who runs this programme to get involved. 

Funding for Specific Sectors

Some sectors may have their own authorities or charities that will provide grants to help you hire from disadvantaged or minority communities. 

For the creative sector, take a look at Creative Access, and there may be similar schemes available for your sector too. 

Local Grants for Creating New Opportunities

There are many local charities and authorities who will support SMEs to hire new recruits who qualify for diversifying your business by hiring refugees. 

Most of these opportunities focus on growth for your business and specify the creation of new roles in your business within six or twelve months. These may be training roles, like interns or apprentices. 

You’ll need to do some research to find some in your area, but here are some examples from Arun District Council and New Anglia. 

Learn more 

If you think these opportunities could work for you and you’re interested in finding help to hire a talented intern or apprentice for your business, then Sona Circle can help.

Contact us now to learn more about our 3-month internship programme to help empower refugees into work.

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5 Great Initiatives Supporting Refugee Integration in the UK

Refugee IntergrationReading Time: 3 minutes

 

 

by Katie McAdam, Sona Circle

Settling into a new country can be very daunting for many refugees. Language barriers, new cultures and lack of social connections make integration a difficult process. Integration is vital not only for improving local community relationships but also for reducing the problem of social isolation among refugees.

Those who are socially isolated experience a lower quality of life and have less access to services and employment. Various initiatives, from small community groups to international projects have emerged to foster the integration of refugees. Below are five great initiatives supporting refugee integration in the UK.

1. Migrant English Project

Overcoming language barriers is one of the most effective integration methods. Refugees with adequate language skills are more likely to access services, obtain employment and be able to form social connections.

Community language groups such as the Brighton based Migrant English Project, help refugees to practice their language with locals in an informal setting. By chatting with locals, refugees acquire not only the language but social connections within the community. The volunteer’s wealth of local knowledge is also helpful to advise refugees on legal, housing and health matters.

2. Integration of Refugees Through Sport (IRTS)

Integration can take a more activity-based approach and act as a fun way for refugees to connect with their communities over a common interest. Sports initiatives such as the European wide IRTS, have been particularly popular initiatives.

IRTS helps fund various local groups to run sports clubs which connect refugees and their communities through sports such as football and table tennis. These projects improve both refugees’ mental and physical wellbeing, as refugees can keep fit whilst making new friends.

Bonding over a shared interest also allows local people to find common ground with refugees and decreases the likelihood of stigmatisation towards refugees. When integration is based on having fun with others, it feels less clinical and more like community spirit.

3. Refugee Survival Trust’s Glasgow

Befriending schemes help refugees to build deeper connections with the community on an individual level. The Glasgow based Refugee Survival Trust’s Glasgow Welcome programme matches refugees with a partner whom they meet up with to explore cultural sites in the city.

Touring local sites allows refugees to learn about the city and feel more connected to their host community. As the programme occurs fortnightly over six months, this enables refugees to develop a closer relationship with their volunteer.

4. Culture Kitchen by Culture Connect

Food-based projects are a delicious way to bring people together and is something universally enjoyed. Newcastle based Culture Connect is a volunteer-run charity which regularly hosts the community lunch programme, Culture Kitchen.

Most of the volunteers are refugees and asylum seekers who find a great sense of purpose in cooking for their communities. The scheme gives refugees the opportunity to share their culture through good food. Additionally, the lunches provide refugees with a social space to chat with locals.

5. LINK IT

Ensuring that refugees have the skills and knowledge about their adopted communities early on in the process is vital for successful integration. UN-led LINK IT focuses on relocation of Syrian refugees to the EU. LINK IT fosters integration throughout a refugee’s relocation journey in offering both pre and post-arrival assistance.

The initiative’s pre-arrival orientation provides refugees with practical information so that they have realistic expectations of life in their host nation.

After arrival, employability focused information sessions help refugees’ transition into the local workforce. This support is twofold in the community with local services such as police forces, social work and health workers are given tailored information on how they can best support refugees.

The refugee experience does not end once they have received their status from their host country.

Refugees face a process of settling into and developing their lives in a new environment. Integration with local neighbours greatly improves a refugee’s wellbeing and prospects. In order to maximise refugee potential in our communities, we need to create beneficial conditions through adequate support.

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Refugees in Entertainment

Statue of refugee, Freddie Mercury in SwitzerlandReading Time: 3 minutes

 

 

Katie McAdam, Sona Circle

In 1969 Farrokh Bulsara fled Zanzibar, (modern-day Tanzania) due to the ensuing genocide of Arab and South Asian minorities. With a great songwriting talent and an impressive vocal range, he dreamed of stardom. After joining the band Queen, he changed his name and then changed the history of rock music.

The newly named Freddie Mercury and his band, would go onto produce an era defining sound and some of the greatest rock albums of all time. Freddy Mercury’s musical success and brilliant stage presence made him a global superstar. His musical legacy has influenced subsequent generations of musicians from Lady Gaga to Nirvana. Mercury continues to exert a huge cultural significance in the UK and was named one of the Greatest Britons by the BBC.

Talented individuals like Freddie Mercury stand to show the cultural impact refugees can have within the entertainment industry of their adopted country. Stories like Freddy Mercury’s are rippled throughout the entertainment industry. With their talent and perseverance, refugees have made many successful careers in the industry, spreading joy to many.

Indeed, the entertainment industry has hosted some of the most celebrated and influential refugees today.

Entertainment is something that can be universally enjoyed. However, often the perspectives we showcase are by a limited few. Refugees can offer a unique perspective which enriches and diversifies our culture. Entertainment is a valuable tool in informing the public, with artists often using their work as a platform to explore issues related to the refugee experience.

This has been particularly clear in the comedy industry; with comedians such as Shappi Khorsandi, humanising the refugee narrative in confronting it with humour and light. Khorsandi came to the UK as a child during the Iranian Revolution as her father’s satirical work put her family’s safety in danger.

She has found a source of comedy in British life, identity conflict and discrimination showing that life as a refugee is not simply defined by tragedy and loss. Her creative talent has also been channeled into her novels ‘Nina is Not OK’ and the soon to be released, ‘Kissing Emma’ as well as her memoir ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Acting English’.

Work within the entertainment industry has allowed comedians like Khorsandi to shift perspectives and challenge misconceptions about refugees in an entertaining way. Refugees are able to further influence the public by using their voice to focus attention on issues they value. The success and public image of refugees in the industry has been used by many to enhance philanthropic efforts.

Chart topping singer Rita Ora, has used her prominence in the industry to act as a well-known activist. In 1991, following the outbreak of the Yugoslav wars, Ora’s Albanian heritage meant she risked persecution by Yugoslav forces. Her family managed to escape her home town, Pristina, on one of the last planes out of Kosovo and settled in London. Showing great musical ability from a young age, Ora gained a place at the prestigious Sylvia Young Theatre School. This kick-started her career in the industry and she has since been nominated for five BRIT awards and seven MOBO awards.

Ora is greatly revered in her native Kosovo and in 2015 was awarded the title of Honorary Ambassador of Kosovo for her work. She is a real role model for many refugees, and acts as UNICEF Ambassador working on various projects concerning refugee rights such as her campaign on the Syrian refugee crisis.

These stories are just some of the many successes of refugees within the entertainment industry. Refugees have and will continue to prosper, achieve and innovate in the field inspiring the next generation of budding artists. Their talents and unique perspectives are vital in shaping the future of a demanding and often elitist profession. The dreams of today’s refugees will go on to produce the legends of tomorrow.

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6 Ways to Convince your Employer to Hire Refugees

Reading Time: 2 minutes

 

 

By Katy Cottrell, Sona Circle

If you feel passionately about workplace equality and the social integration of refugees, addressing a lack of diversity in your own workspace is a great place to start. But having these types of conversations with your employers can be difficult, which is why we have created a list of key points that you can use to convince your boss to hire refugees.

1. Consumers care about diversity and inclusion

If your employer is reluctant to hire refugees, it’s good to point out that consumers are increasingly concerned with the ethical values of the businesses they support. For example, in 2017 the Cone Communications CSR study found that 78% of consumers say they want companies to address important social justice issues. Additionally, 87% said they would purchase a product because a company advocated for an issue they cared about.

With an increase in awareness of systemic racism and racial bias, thanks to the Black Lives Matter protests, this stance is likely to gain some traction. Therefore, hiring refugees may have the advantage of satisfying socially conscious customers.

2. You could attract other skilled labour

Additionally, research has shown that millennials specifically want to work for companies that are more diverse and inclusive, and this affects which jobs they apply to. A study by Deloitte also found that millennials are more engaged with their jobs when they perceive their workplaces to be more inclusive.

3. Refugees have a variety of employable skills

One reason many companies are reluctant to employ refugees is out of a perception that they lack relevant experience. However, often refugees’ valuable qualifications and overseas experience are not recognised by UK employers. Therefore, the refugee population could be a large skilled workforce with untapped potential.
It’s a good idea to encourage your employer to be more open-minded about the types of previous experience and qualifications that could be highly relevant to their business.

4. You should practice what you preach

If your employer likes to pride themselves on being socially conscious or ‘human centric’, it’s worth reminding them that hiring refugees and creating a more diverse workplace, is a great way to prove that they really are.

5. You could be nominated for a diversity award

In various employment sectors there are a growing number of awards for diversity and inclusion. Examples include, the Employee Engagement Awards and the Inclusive Company Awards. Being awarded with recognition for workplace diversity is something a company can pride themselves on, and will illustrate to consumers that they are dedicated to inclusivity.

6. Sona Circle Recruitment can help

At Sona Circle Recruitment, we connect socially conscious employers with the skilled and dependable refugee workforce in the UK. Our refugee internship programme matches qualified and committed members of the refugee workforce with exciting new start-ups and growth businesses.

How else can I help?

You can also show your support by making a donation (no matter how big or small) to the Sona Circle Refugee Employment Fund where 100% of donations go directly to supporting refugee employment in the UK.

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5 Key Benefits to Hiring Refugees

Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

 

By Zoe Allen, Sona Circle

Hiring refugees in your small business or start-up has a whole host of benefits that simply don’t get enough attention. Without a wide range of skills and talent, a business runs the risk of stagnating. Hiring refugee interns to access a highly motivated and diverse talent pipeline is the ideal way to combat this.

What’s more, refugees consistently face barriers to employment in the UK, so hiring refugees allows you to help others whilst still growing your business. It’s a win-win situation for all involved!

Below are five key benefits to hiring refugees that every SME and start-up should know about:

1. Diversify your workforce

Your business can directly benefit from ethnic and cultural diversity. Research by McKinsey & Company found that teams that are more culturally and ethnically diverse are 33% more likely to be more profitable than their less-diverse competitors.

Refugees are not a homogenous group, and come from a wide range of backgrounds, so taking on refugee interns or staff can hugely increase the diversity of your business. Drawing from this wide range of candidates from all over the world can greatly help diversify thinking and skillsets within your business, leading to vastly improved innovation and growth.

2. Access skilled and qualified candidates

Refugees are often highly skilled and experienced. Research from the Nuffield Foundation found that nearly half of the refugees surveyed held a qualification before coming to the UK, and Deloitte found that 38% of refugees surveyed had a University education. Refugees have a wide range of talents and professional skills, and due to their experiences have often developed enormous resilience and adaptability.

In addition, refugees are likely to be proficient in a number of languages other than English, which can be another asset to businesses growing into international markets.

3. Increase employee communication and empathy

Encouraging employees to interact with refugees from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds will develop soft skills such as effective communication, empathy and teamwork.

We suggest using ‘buddy’ schemes to support refugee hires, to help employees develop these skills with the intern they are supporting. This interaction will encourage innovative and new thinking throughout the whole team, facilitated by the inclusion of the new refugee intern or employee.

4. Keep roles filled by ideal candidates

73% of employers surveyed in the US found that refugees had higher retention rates than other employees, so hiring refugees will allow you to keep this great new talent for longer which significantly reduces recruitment and training costs and encourages uninterrupted business continuity.

Sona Circle Recruitment’s refugee internship programme can help your business recruit a targeted talent pipeline, which can be developed into a dedicated and committed long-term workforce.

5. Decrease unconscious employee bias

Creating opportunities for your employees to work alongside a diverse refugee workforce will both enable employees to develop new skills and ideas, while also reducing staff’s unconscious bias.

This will increase workplace cohesion and integration, boost staff morale and improve teamwork. You’ll create a diverse and committed team, which recognises the importance of a fair and socially progressive workplace.

So how can Sona Circle Recruitment help you?

At Sona Circle Recruitment, we connect socially conscious employers with the skilled and dependable refugee workforce in the UK. Our refugee internship programme matches qualified and committed members of the refugee workforce with exciting new start-ups and growth businesses. You can learn more about our refugee employment programmes here.

Our mission in 2020 is to create up to 100 new employment opportunities for refugees in the UK and we now need your support to achieve this ambitious target.

You can show your support by making a donation (no matter how big or small) to the Sona Circle Refugee Employment Fund where 100% of donations go directly to supporting refugee employment in the UK.