Integration happens when you have connections and a friendly face to turn to.
Many refugees are facing very difficult situations when they arrive. They may be alone, have suffered trauma as a result of their migration and be coping with multiple losses including family, friends, homes, status and income. Many face difficult practical situations or face barriers in accessing and engaging with services. Coming to a new place can also be disorientating and confusing.
Befriending offers a way to help someone feel welcome, get to know their local area, find out about essential services and begin to feel at home. Mentoring supports refugees who are isolated or need help to build confidence, access services and develop new skills so they can build happier lives in the UK. The National Refugee Welcome Board has been established to coordinate the welcome to ensure refugees are well-supported. Local mentoring is an important part of this welcome. We know that people can not only survive but thrive and contribute if given initial support.
There are mentoring and befriending projects across the UK. Search for your local migrant and refugee organisation to find out if they have a project and how to get involved. You can also visit Mentoring and Befriending Foundation or Befriending Networks for more information or to find a project.
If you would like to find out more about setting up or running a mentoring project, the Migrant and Refugee Communities Forum is offering support. Contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org to request support, or visit migrantforum.org.uk/projects/mentoring-project to find out more.