Migrateful’s mission is to empower and celebrate refugees and vulnerable migrants on their journey to integration by supporting them to run their own cookery classes.
Migrateful works with three groups, all facing common issues, but with their own particular circumstances:
- Asylum seekers: who have no right to work and no recourse to public funds while their cases are being considered. As a result, many are destitute and deprived of crucial opportunities to participate in British society;
- Refugees: who have been granted asylum and can legally work, but often still face difficulties. 50% of the 125,000 refugees living in the UK are unemployed, often due to limited English, or because their qualifications are not recognised by British employers;
- Long-term migrants: Some migrants may have lived in the UK for many years yet still be unable to speak English. Many are isolated and lonely as a result.
For all three groups language barriers present many difficulties and make finding work difficult, if not impossible. Being unable to provide for themselves and their families has significant negative effects on self-esteem and mental health. Without basic English, all three groups also struggle to access support and interact meaningfully with the host community. This in turn can build fear and mistrust amongst the host population, breeding tension and further hampering integration.
Immigration has remained one of the most divisive issues for the public in recent years and was a factor in many voters’ decisions in the EU referendum. The repercussions of the Brexit vote have in some cases led to a more hostile environment towards immigrants in general, particularly those, like refugees and asylum seekers, who are perceived as being dependent on benefits. British Future recently conducted the largest ever public consultation on immigration, the National Conversation on Immigration. These discussions highlighted concerns about immigration (for e.g. 52% of people said they were worried about the strain put on public services as a result of immigration).
One significant finding, which resonates with research elsewhere, is that social contact with migrants has a major impact on how people view immigration and immigrants. Where people have social contact, they are able to base their opinions on those interactions rather than on narratives drawn from the media and their peer group. In places where migrants are less well integrated into their local communities, negative public views tended to dominate. The discussions also revealed a worrying level of anti-Muslim prejudice, particularly in places where the local population has little social contact with Muslim communities. In many places, attitudes to Muslims impacted on how people saw refugees and sometimes references to Muslims and refugees were mixed or conflated in the discussion.
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