A warm welcome
As part of Refugee Week, we spoke with Taanpreet, Nadine and Arthur at Islington Council about the work they do welcoming refugees, migrants and asylum seekers to Islington
Taanpreet, refugee outreach officer
I started with the NRPF team in April, and it’s been all hands-on deck from the moment I started. I’ve been working with the team to ensure that hosts and Ukrainian refugees in Islington have undergone all the relevant checks they need to go through before, during, and after their arrival. This might sound a little dry – and there’s certainly procedure to be followed – but getting to meet such a wide range of people has been a privilege. It’s really deepened my knowledge and appreciation of Islington as a borough.
Refugees and migrants arriving in Islington are thankful to the UK for taking them in and hosting them. The council has been doing a great job making sure everyone arrives safely, and no one can doubt the generosity of the hosts who have agreed to house Ukrainian refugees in their homes. However, for me, it’s important we don’t allow ourselves to think that, as a country, we’re doing this extraordinarily great thing – it’s our duty to support those who need our help. All refugees and those fleeing war should be able to find sanctuary and safety if they choose to.
Nadine, integration and inclusion officer – City of Sanctuary
Currently, I work with a number of families from Afghanistan who were evacuated by the UK government. My job is to help them to resettle in the borough. I work with them closely, ensuring children are enrolled in local schools, linking them up with employment support, ESOL classes (courses for people whose first language isn’t English), education opportunities, and local GP surgeries. It’s intensive work. I am also co-ordinating Islington’s Homes for Ukraine Scheme response, which has seen more than 150 Ukrainian refugees arrive in the borough so far. The number of residents coming forward to host in Islington has been amazing to see and our team is working hard to support everyone arriving.
Refugees and migrants bring their previous skills, expertise and many talents to our community here in Islington. They are a huge asset and contribute so much to our local society.
Arthur, integration and inclusion officer
The Home Office has placed more than 800 asylum seekers who are awaiting immigration decisions in hostels and hotels in Islington. I work to coordinate council services and facilitate the community offer for those residents. We want to help this hugely marginalised community with everything from recreational activities and health groups to immigration advice and safeguarding support.
The lives of people in the asylum system are often distressingly precarious. They can face long waits for immigration decisions, followed by quick and significant upheavals. They are a wonderfully diverse community, each with their own set of skills and experience. They all have a huge amount of potential which they are keen to realise and want the freedom to build their lives in a new country.
For more information on how you can help support refugees and migrants, visit the council’s webpages