- Go the extra mile
Refugee groups tend to be under a lot of pressure due to the acute needs of members: remind before appointments and follow up after, remind groups about training days, contact groups in between meetings to see how things are going.
- Remember the language barrier
Allow for interpretation where necessary but, if it’s not required, be prepared for written work to take longer and make sure that people have understood by asking them to repeat back at the end of a meeting. Provide a clear written record to take away.
- Allow for orientation and network locally
Meet up with groups at a well-known landmark/your office and go to the training together. Take the time to explain where Support Agencies are, what they provide and how to get there. Offer to accompany on a first time visit. Make sure groups are networked locally – Have they got the key contacts in regeneration teams, Councillors, Sure Start etc.?
- If in doubt, visit
Go to see the group in action, doing their activities. Insist on being invited to meetings. Be prepared to go at a weekend or in the evening. AGMs are also a very good indicator, go to them as often as you can.
- Learn about immigration issues
Immigration legislation is constantly changing. Try to stay updated through websites and newsletters. Get good signposting information in your office for legal centres and emergency help for asylum seekers.
- Partner up with “specialist” refugee support agencies
Run training courses at the venue of a refugee-specific agency that is familiar to refugee organisations. Work with specialist development workers to tailor courses to refugee groups. Utilise specialist agencies contacts among the refugee community to promote your work and training courses.
- Get the caterers in!
Ask refugee organisations to cater at your events – as well as the culinary benefits for you and financial gains for them it will help to build relationships.
- Signpost to Refugee Agencies
For refugee organisations to be able to network and influence policy, ensure that they know about existing advocacy initiatives and forums.
- Bear in mind cultural/religious variables
Always get Halal food with vegetarian options. Avoid Fridays for meetings as it is the main day for prayers. Find out when Ramadan is since people will be fasting.