UK: Free English lessons would help integrate refugees

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Wed Oct 31 15:13:20 UTC 2007

[Title deleted because it conflicts with listproc rules]
1 day ago

Refugees would be integrated into British society much more quickly if
they were given free English language lessons, a new report has urged.
Research into the experiences of refugees who have arrived in this
country over the past 50 years found that access to English lessons
was critical, but few were offered the chance to take classes. Most of
the 30 refugees questioned said they felt British and had made friends
with people outside their country of origin.

But only one in eight of those surveyed for Refugee Support had made
friends with their neighbours and almost all were under-employed or
working in jobs where their qualifications were not recognised. The
study, conducted by the Institute for Public Policy Research (ippr),
also found that refugees were more likely to vote in elections and
take part in community activities than UK-born residents. Barbara
Roche, chairwoman of Metropolitan Support Trust, said: "This is the
first piece of research to be commissioned by Metropolitan Support's
newly established research and consultancy unit and we hope that the
significant findings and recommendations will help inform future
discussions about refugee integration, Britishness and citizenship.

"For the past 50 years we have been helping refugees rebuild their
lives in the UK. We know that those we help want to integrate into
Britain, they want to be accepted and we aim to help them through this
process but the system doesn't always help us. "This report clearly
outlines some key changes that are needed. We will work closely with
central, local and regional government as well as other agencies to
ensure necessary changes are made." Danny Sriskandarajah, ippr's head
of migration, said: "Life as a refugee in the UK can be tough. Two
things that would help refugee integration are access to free English
language courses and more certainty over their status in the UK.

"Investing in English language training will bring long-term benefits
for individual refugees and the wider British economy and society.
Giving refugees the right to settle permanently in the UK will give
them an incentive to integrate."

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