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The Culture and Heritage that Refugees Leave Behind

Culture of RefugeesReading Time: 2 minutes

 

Culture of Refugees

 

By Katy Cottrell, Sona Circle

When refugees are forced to flee their countries for their safety, they are also forced to leave behind their homes, jobs and many of their personal possessions. But what is sometimes overlooked, is the loss of the unique culture and heritage of their home country. Sometimes this can lead to cultural bereavement, where in addition to other traumas that refugees face, they must grieve the loss of their native culture.

Researchers from Georgetown University interviewed refugees to find out what it was that they missed most about their former lives. This research highlighted the rich and unique culture that once connected the communities that these refugees came from. For example, one Palestinian man spoke about how he missed sharing Friday evenings with his neighbours, where they would ‘get together and chat, and their stories wouldn’t stop until the middle of the night’.

It is understandable that some refugees may experience a culture shock when arriving in countries such as the UK, where interactions between neighbours tend to be briefer and bonds less strong. Other refugees from Syria spoke about frequenting the markets in Damascus where Syrian food, handmade crafts and jewellery are sold or drinking coffee whilst listening to storytellers and poets who, prior to the conflict, would recount ancient tales in local cafes.

These are just some examples of the cultural heritage that refugees have often been forced to leave behind.

When refugees arrive in their new host country, there is often a strong pressure to conform to this country’s culture at the expense of maintaining their own traditions that have always been integral to their lives.

Researchers have described two processes of integration when refugees (and migrants in general) begin living in a new country: assimilation and acculturation.

Assimilation is when a minority group gradually and eventually loses all the cultural markers that set them apart as an individual group, instead of adopting the culture of a larger group. This integration process is often associated with poorer mental health and psychological well-being and lower self-esteem.

In contrast, acculturation is thought to be a more positive process in which a minority group is able to maintain their cultural traditions and co-exist with the dominant culture.

This is why it is important to celebrate and be respectful of refugee’s cultural traditions and heritage. Many refugees seek to share their home country’s culture using music, food and fashion, and you can show your support for this by supporting refugee-led businesses. For example, Anqa Collective is an online marketplace where you can shop for clothes and other products that have been made by refugees and are often inspired by the culture of their home countries. Similarly, Migrateful is a charity that provides cooking classes (currently online) that are led by refugees so they can share and celebrate their culture through cuisine.

Overall, it should not be overlooked that culture is an important part of all of our identities, and when refugees are living and integrating into a new host culture, they can enrich this society by bringing various parts of their heritage with them.

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4 Ways to Support Refugees in your Community

4 Ways to Support Refugees in your CommunityReading Time: 3 minutes

 

 

By Aanya Bhandari, Sona Circle

Migration isn’t easy. Accepting change isn’t easy. Starting a new life isn’t easy.

Refugees face a wide range of challenges when it comes to integration and acceptance within their communities. It is no secret that xenophobia and racism are two of the most pertinent issues that plague societies around the world today.

Adding to the various difficulties that refugees face are growing anti-refugee and anti-migrant sentiments, which have profound implications for refugees’ social welfare and mental health as they migrate to, and settle in new host communities.

The current political climate and emerging policies on immigration in various western countries have propelled refugee resettlement programmes into the everyday consciousness of the public through news and social media, like never before.

Researchers have observed that refugees are often unwelcome in many communities as a result of the “rampant Islamophobia, racism, and anti-immigration rhetoric.”

The rise of populist, nationalist governments has boosted hate speech and xenophobic rhetoric. From Hungary to the United States, political actors in power have resorted to anti-refugee and anti-immigrant stances that promote fear and distrust of foreigners. In some cases, leaders are expressing a complete denial of any need to respond to the world refugee crisis, by insinuating that most asylum seekers’ claims are bogus and tearing down the basic notion that people have the right to flee for safety.

Hundreds of thousands of refugees embark on long, perilous journeys every year, for the opportunity of a ‘new beginning’, only to be greeted by the stigma of their past which has slowly crept into their hopes of a new life with a clean slate.

Mental health is often stigmatised amongst the general population.

This is extended to a much larger degree towards the refugee communities which have often experienced traumatic events due to political, religious, environmental or social events. The trauma of these events often precedes the event itself that causes millions to flee from their homes, communities and countries every year.

While many of the required changes are at a macro-policy level, individuals who form a part of the general population have the power to bring about many small changes, which combined, can have a great impact.

By acting together, we can change the historical trend of systemic oppression, discrimination and intolerance towards refugees and immigrants.

So, what can we do on an individual level to show our support and change the narrative of refugees and asylum seekers within our communities?

1. Embrace diverse cultures

A small change in attitude can go a long way. An appreciation for different cultures, cuisines, fashion, languages, skin tones, and even physical appearances can help us understand so much more about the world we all live in. As human beings, we all have many similar shared values and ethics. If we can learn to embrace diversity then understanding and empathy for others will follow naturally.

2. Support refugee businesses

By contributing to refugee businesses such as those supported by The Entrepreneurial Refugee Network (TERN), you could help support refugee integration. This could be as simple as buying bread from a refugee owned or supported outlet such as Breadwinners. You may not realise it but by doing these little things, you’re helping someone feel like they are a valued part of a community, showing that the community is as much theirs as it is yours.

3. Employ refugees

Employing refugees is great for businesses. Aside from adding new skills and diversity to your business, it also creates a healthier work environment as different cultures and ideas working side by side produce the best results.

If you would like to learn more about the benefits of hiring refugees and how best to integrate the refugee workforce in your business, get in touch with Sona Circle who are able to work with your human resource team to hire from the skilled and dependable refugee workforce.

4. Work together

No two refugees have the same experiences. Each individual has needs and requirements which are based on their unique characters and experiences. It is therefore essential that we all collaborate and cooperate to understand the different ways in which we can best support refugees and asylum seekers in our communities.

This is why we partner with many diverse partner organisations which all have one thing in common, a shared commitment to supporting the skilled and dependable refugee workforce.

And, always remember, as the old Chinese proverb goes “a journey of a thousand miles, begins with a first step”.

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Transferring International Qualifications to the UK: A Guide for Refugees and Asylum Seekers

Refugee QualificationsReading Time: 5 minutes

 

 

by Zoe Allen, Sona Circle

Why Do I Need to Transfer my Qualifications?

As a refugee, if you worked in a career you loved and enjoyed in your home country, you would probably love to continue practising it in the UK. However, you need to know whether your qualifications would be accepted as proof of your skills, or allow you to get accredited for your career of choice, in the UK.

Even if you didn’t have a specific career, you probably still achieved some qualifications, either at school or at university level. These can be used to help you gain a more interesting and valuable job, rather than having to enter the UK job market at an entry-level.

Your qualifications will probably be in the language of your home country, and therefore not accessible to most recruiters. Moreover, your home country probably provided different courses and grading systems to the equivalent courses in the UK.

For some careers, such as law, the training you undertook might not have fully prepared you for practising law in the UK, and there may be more training you need to do in order to be able to practice to the correct standards whilst in the UK.

Therefore, making sure your qualifications are transferred, translated, or topped-up, is essential for many career paths in the UK.

Below, we have outlined the official way to get your qualifications translated (a NARIC Statement of Compatibility), linked some guides on how school and degree level qualifications may translate, and provided advice on working in sectors that need specific assessments.

A Note on International Qualifications for Employers

If you are reading this as an employer thinking of recruiting refugees and wondering what qualifications to accept, we encourage you to have an open mind and be receptive to considering non-UK qualifications.

Check with your industry regulatory body about what qualifications would be acceptable for certifications, if needed, or that would be equivalent to the qualifications you would expect in the UK.

You can also point refugee applicants towards this article, or encourage them to complete a NARIC Statement of Compatibility.

NARIC Statement of Compatibility

The easiest way to transfer your qualifications to the UK and apply for jobs is to apply for a NARIC Statement of Compatibility. This is a national UK government-supported institution that evaluates your training and skills and produces an official report that employers can read (alongside a CV and cover letter) to understand what qualifications and skills you have.

You can apply online on the NARIC website here, and get your report within 2 weeks. A NARIC qualification currently costs £59.40.

A Statement of Compatibility will be extremely useful for many roles, but for some specific careers, especially those where you need a special certification to practice them, you may need to take part in extra training or assessments. You can read more on this below, including some examples for specific sectors.

Notes on Translating Qualifications

You may find other services offering to translate or compare your qualifications, but be wary of these.

NARIC is the only universally-accepted certification (as it is supported by the UK government) and any other translating services – or doing it yourself – may not be accurate and employers may not consider them.

That being said, it may be useful to have a general idea of how your school or degree qualifications would translate in the UK. We have included some information below and some useful links.

Use these as guidelines for working out what kind of roles you could be qualified for, then contact the recruiter. Explain your situation and ask what format they would like you to include your qualification in on your application. If you have a Statement of Compatibility, tell them you can add this to the application too.

Also, it is worth knowing that some large, international companies may provide information on what international qualifications they accept, or how to convert your qualifications for that application, on their website. Here is an example on the KPMG Careers website.

Translating International School-Level Qualifications

The Graduate Recruitment Bureau (GRB) has a useful guide which provides information on estimated equivalents for school-level grades in lots of countries, translated into A-Level qualifications. A-Level qualifications are taken by most UK students at the end of their school career, between ages 16 and 18.

Recruiters (or universities) may ask for your results in UCAS points equivalent. UCAS points are a system to show the total of all your grades so that universities can easily compare students. Use the second table on the GRB page (linked above) to work out your grade equivalents, and then the first table to work out your UCAS points

Translating International Degree (University) Qualifications

Most degree qualifications can usually be equated to UK qualifications. Again, the GRB has a guide on how to assess your qualifications.

If you have done any kind of university study in the UK (for example, a Master’s degree on top of a Bachelor’s degree that was taken in your home country), then contact your university’s admissions office to ask if they translated your undergraduate degree results when you applied, as this could also give an indication of their UK equivalency.

Translating International Career-Specific Qualifications

If you want to continue practising a specific career that you are already qualified for such as:

  • Law
  • Dentistry
  • Teaching
  • Construction
  • Nursing

 

You will need to be registered with the correct industry body and certified in the UK. For your industry, search for the industry body online and contact them to ask what international qualifications they accept and how you can translate your training to work in the UK.

For many industries, you will need to take a qualification examination or assessment to allow you to join the industry registry. For some, such as nursing, you may need to re-train completely. This changes from industry to industry, so getting in contact with your industry regulatory body is the easiest way to find out more.

As a guide, here are some examples of careers which need accreditation and specific qualifications, and what you have to do to practice them in the UK.

Law/Solicitor
To practice law as a solicitor in the UK, you will need to take a Solicitor’s Qualifying Examination (SQE) to certify in the UK, but you do not need to retrain. You can read more on the Law Society website.

Teaching
The UK government website provides information on how to gain Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) in the UK. For some, this will mean carrying out an accredited teacher training programme, or, if you already have a degree, you may only have to carry out an assessment to gain your QTS.

Dentistry
According to the British Dentistry Journal, if you are from outside the EU, you will usually have to sit the General Dentistry Council’s Overseas Registration Exam (ORE) and demonstrate your proficiency in English, too. This will allow you to qualify to be part of the GDC and then practice in the UK.

Construction
NARIC offers a Statement of Comparability for Construction which will help you apply for a CSCS card, which is needed to practice construction in the UK.

Who can help?

Translating your qualifications to work in the UK isn’t always easy, and can be expensive. It’s important to work with employers, be open and honest with them, and explain your situation.

Remember that larger employers may have experienced the same thing before and have more resources to help you translate, but smaller companies may have more flexibility to accept alternative qualifications and hire you based on other factors.

Consider contacting refugee employment charities, such as Sona Circle Recruitment, who can connect you with employers with more open and refugee-friendly recruitment practices. Some may also be able to directly assist you in translating your qualifications or provide financial support.

If you need more training on top of your qualifications before following a career path, consider taking part in Sona Circle Recruitment’s refugee internship scheme, which provides 3 month paid internships in exciting new startups to help boost your CVs.

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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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Germany’s Progressive Approach to Refugees and Asylum Seekers

Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

 

by David Cregan, Sona Circle

To understand Germany’s current policy on refugees and asylum seekers, you need to revisit the post Second World War period, 1945-1960. This 15 year period transformed a destroyed West Germany into its current economic powerhouse that we know today. There was a significant movement of refugees back to Germany from other parts of Europe at that time that of course, had to be resettled.

During this period it is estimated that there were 7 million refugees in Germany, many of which were resettled in countries around Europe, the Americas and Australia who were less affected by the war.

However, for the most part, these refugees (usually of German ethnicity) were granted full citizenship in Germany.

As East Germany took a differing route with a communist dictatorship, West Germany was taking a socially liberal route. From the 1960s, with a booming economy, and a shortage of skilled workers, companies made recruitment agreements that welcomed many new workers (Die Gästarbeiter – The guest workers).

These were economic migrants from Italy, Turkey, Spain, Portugal and Greece and although agreements were supposed to expire, the majority were allowed to stay and began integrating into German society.

Having direct experience of large numbers of refugees within its borders, and understanding the economic power of migrants, Germany was ideally placed to understand the situation unfolding between 2014 and 2016 as the flow of refugees from the Syrian conflict began.

During this time the number of new asylum applications rose from 173,072 in 2014 to 722,370 in 2016. Although this returned to 161,931 applications in 2018 it remains double the 10 year average of 78,000 today.

It is fair to say, Germany has been and still is a leader in accepting refugees and asylum seekers.

The integration of refugees in Germany has received a significant commitment politically, economically and socially to upskill and train over 1.4 million refugees into the fabric of Germany society. This has been a challenge due to the social and cultural differences between countries and also due to the high numbers of refugees carrying the emotional and physical scars of war.

After the initial surge between 2014 and 2016, the integration efforts are beginning to pay off as thousands of refugees are attending university and participating in the workforce in higher numbers than ever before. Since 2015 Germany has had very low unemployment rates (general unemployment rate of 5.2% as of May 2020), sustained economic growth and decreasing public welfare recipients according to Statista.

However, Germany does not hide the fact that unemployment and underemployment remain a massive drawback to social progress and integration. Several measures have helped in this area, for example, making work permit decisions faster and easier to understand; which was initially a big issue given the volume of applications which have gradually reduced in time.

Refugee skills were being assessed after a 2-3 year application process which led to training gaps and delays depending on which region the refugees were located. Standardisation of language skills between the Federal Office for Migration and Jobcentres has been improving but is still not perfectly aligned with the needs of both companies and refugees.

Many refugees have taken advantage of the vocational and apprenticeship programmes (Berufsausbildung) where they can be sponsored by a company in need of a specific skill. This has been especially effective at advancing employment opportunities against the challenge of differing educational and qualification standards, with a great deal of success in Berlin, Munich, Hamburg and Cologne where large numbers of refugees are searching for work.

What has been great to see is civil society playing a key role in helping an unprecedented number of refugees and asylum seekers to integrate into their community.

In 2016 alone it was reported that 11% of all Germans contributed either actively or through donations. This is a vital and frequently underestimated part of meeting the basic needs and social integration of new arrivals.

Also, a study from the OECD conducted in Germany found that almost 80% of participating employers who hired asylum seekers and refugees did so at least in part because of this sense of social responsibility.

With integration courses offering language and numerical skills as well as labour market functioning courses, integration has been for the most part successful, albeit a slow process.

At Sona Circle Recruitment, we connect socially conscious employers with the skilled and dependable refugee workforce in the UK.

Our refugee internship and employment programmes match 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. Alternatively, you can show your support by donating to the Sona Circle Refugee Employment Fund where 100% of donations go directly to supporting refugee employment in the UK.

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Are Refugees and Asylum Seekers’ Allowed to Work in the UK?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

 

by Katy Cottrell, Sona Circle

The terms ‘refugee’ and ‘asylum seeker’ are often confused by many people and have incorrectly been used interchangeably.

Though to many people, these terms may seem like they mean the same thing, there are important distinctions between refugees and asylum seekers which have implications for their legal right to work.

To clarify any misconceptions, we have created this quick guide to explain who can and cannot legally work in the UK.

Firstly, what is the difference between a refugee and an asylum seeker?

Asylum seekers are those who have fled their home country as a result of war, persecution or any other factors harming themselves or their family, however are still seeking international protection.

If an asylum seekers’ claim is accepted by their host country, they are then classified as a refugee which provides them with the rights agreed upon in the 1951 refugee convention.

Do refugees have the right to work in the UK?

The short answer to this is yes, absolutely.

Legally, refugees are allowed to work in any profession and at any skill level, and they are also protected against workplace discrimination in the UK.

Are asylum seekers allowed to work in the UK?

Unlike refugees, those who are still seeking asylum are, for the most part, not legally allowed to work in the UK.

However, there are some exceptions.

For example, asylum seekers can apply for permission to work if they have waited for over 1 year for a decision on their asylum claim, and they themselves are not responsible for the delay in decision making.

This however, is still restricted, and asylum seekers who have been given permission to work for these reasons can only apply for jobs on the UK’s Official Shortage Occupation List.

Are asylum seekers allowed to do apprenticeships in the UK?

In general most asylum seekers are not allowed to start apprenticeships in the UK, though there are some exceptions.

Those who have lived in the UK for 6 months or longer with no decision being made on their claim, and those who are under the care of children’s services may be able to start an apprenticeship.

If asylum seekers cannot work, what can they do with their skills and time?

Although asylum seekers are not legally allowed to work, in 2013 the Home Office updated their guidance, stating that asylum seekers are allowed to volunteer regardless of the status of their claim.

Asylum Seekers can contribute and develop their skills by volunteering in both the public and non-profit sectors.

Is anything being done to give asylum seekers the right to work?

Asylum seekers inability to work in the UK has become a topic of debate thanks to Refugee Action’s Lift the Ban Campaign, which aims to give asylum seekers the right to work.

This campaign is rooted in the fact that asylum seekers are given just £5.39 per day to purchase food, sanitary products, and clothing from the UK government.

What Refugee Action has found through their campaign is that asylum seekers want to contribute to their host country and provide for themselves and their families rather than relying on the government.

If you’re interested in this campaign, you can find Refugee Action’s petition here. For more information about hiring refugees and asylum seekers in the UK, visit our website www.sonacircle.com where you can also get in contact with us.

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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.