As mentioned previously in Chairman Mick Davis piece, World Jewish Relief has developed a unique programme praised by the British government to respond to Syrian refugees arriving in the UK. As the international refugee crisis has reached the UK, World Jewish Relief’s international expertise will now be applied here too. Responding to calls to act from our supporters and the wider Jewish community, World Jewish Relief will support 1,000 Syrian refugees to integrate into British life over the next five years.
The British Jewish community’s response to the international refugee appeal has been enormous and heart-warming. World Jewish Relief has raised over £820,000 towards our work to support refugees in Greece and Turkey. However, we could not ignore the volume and intensity of calls for us to bring that international work to the UK to support some of the 20,000 Syrian refugees who will be arriving here over the next five years.
World Jewish Relief was formed in 1933 to help people flee Nazi Germany, including through the Kindertransport, and enable them to develop lives and livelihoods in Britain. This programme is inspired by our origins, reflecting the Jewish values of welcoming the stranger into our home and enabling people to support themselves.
The employment programme is informed by our experience and expertise in developing livelihood opportunities, predominantly in the Former Soviet Union. Over the past four years, this programme has supported over 15,000 people. The new programme will enable refugees to gain confidence and language skills, and provide them with essential training to better understand the UK workplace and access vocational training, work placements and post-placement support. The programme will offer individualised, specialist employment support in partnership with local services and the private sector with the long-term aim of helping participants to find permanent, sustainable employment.
A series of studies have shown that employment is a key factor for refugees successfully integrating into the new community. Refugees currently have significantly lower employment than the general population. The government does not currently have an employment programme for Syrian refugees and has been incredibly encouraging of World Jewish Relief to organise this provision.
The programme will be based in areas where a high number of refugees are coming to and there is a proximity to local Jewish communities who are willing to support the work. Locations under consideration include Birmingham, Bradford, Coventry, Glasgow and Leeds.
The programme will be delivered by professional staff alongside volunteers from the Jewish community. The volunteers will offer essential support, including mentoring, running conversation classes and youth clubs.
Paul Anticoni, Chief Executive of World Jewish Relief, said:
Since it was announced that the UK would be accepting 20,000 Syrian refugees, we received many calls from our community for us to play a key part in a Jewish response. We knew adding a UK component to our international response was the right thing to do.
The gap in provision for employment services for refugees, combined with our extensive experience in livelihood development, means that we hope to make a significant contribution to their experience of settling in the UK, after the war and persecution that so many faced in Syria.
Richard Harrington, Minister for Syrian Refugees, said:
World Jewish Relief’s employment programme for resettled people is an excellent initiative which is supported by the Jewish community.
Greater employment opportunities create better integration and this scheme will help to enable resettled people to support themselves, their families and become an integral part of UK life.