Refugee Roots

07 October 2021

Refugee Roots received £25,173 funding from People’s Health Trust in June 2021 using money raised by Health Lottery East Midlands. The funding is being used to facilitate two weekly groups for refugees and asylum seekers in Nottingham.

The groups mainly focus on teaching English as a second language but participants also decide on different activities to do during the classes such as flower arranging and arts and crafts. Beyond learning new skills, the project aims to increase participants’ wellbeing through building strong social connections and greater community power.

Under the UK’s Asylum Seekers Dispersal Policy, asylum seekers who need accommodation are housed across the UK according to an agreed ratio, based on various regional factors. Nottingham is a dispersal city and so projects like Refugee Roots are particularly important here to support people in building relationships in the local community and gaining support to access statutory services.

Refugee Roots addresses the needs of refugees and asylum seekers through their project by focusing primarily on relationship building. The support staff which assist with the weekly groups and provide one-to-one support are bi-lingual and some have been through the asylum-seeking process themselves.

Adam Baker, Refugee Roots Director, said:

“Some projects just provide services, but we really value the social connections we build. The way we’re involved with our participants is long term, our support doesn’t stop.”

The project benefits from working with staff and volunteers who speak a range of languages which helps them build stronger connections with the project participants. They also run a one-to-one befriending service which helps people sustain friendships and form ties within the community.

These relationships and community ties are important so that project participants are not left isolated after they have finished engaging with the project’s services. For example, the project supported a young man when he arrived in Nottingham and he engaged with English classes, the befriending service and with support workers who accompanied him to medical appointments.

After two years the participant had stopped engaging with the project but when he received his leave to remain he was served a 28 day notice to leave his current accommodation. At this time he reached out to Refugee Roots again for support and the project were able to work with the local council and other local support organisations to secure temporary accommodation.

Adam added:

“It’s because of these relationships we’ve built that people feel comfortable reaching out for support again and this is the impact we want to have. We want everyone to know that they have a community supporting them when they need it.”

Through these social connections more activities which participants lead have taken place, including a monthly cooking class where participants teach others how to cook different cuisines and then sit down for a meal together. There have also been day trips and a lot of participants are in WhatsApp groups so they can stay connected outside of the project.  

These social connections are important for people’s health and wellbeing, especially in a situation where they can so easily become isolated and unable to access basic support. Find out more about migration and health.

You have already completed an application for funding, are you sure you would like to submit another application? You should only submit another application if it is for a different project. If you want to amend an application that has already been submitted, please call us on 020 7749 9100.

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