Refugee Action responds to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Refugees’ report, Refugees Welcome? which finds too many refugees face barriers to integration and a lack of support to rebuild their lives.
The report adds to a growing body of evidence, including the government-commissioned Casey Review and the APPG on social integration, which finds learning English is essential for effective integration.
And as parties hit the election trail, research shows members of the public support increased funding for refugees to learn English. A recent poll by Ipsos MORI finds 60% of Brits believe the Government should invest in lessons for all refugees.
Stephen Hale, chief executive of Refugee Action, says:
“This report is a timely wake-up call. The new Government must seize the opportunity to enable all refugees in Britain, regardless of how they arrive, to successfully rebuild their lives.
“English language classes are critical to this. All parties should commit to increase funding for this in the next Parliament, so that refugees’ skills and experiences can enrich our culture and benefit our economy.
“Refugees are determined to learn English and start contributing to their new communities through volunteering, work and socialising with their neighbours.
“But as the report highlights, they face huge barriers to integration. Our own research shows refugees are waiting up to two years to start English language lessons – this is a shocking waste of their talents.”
For more information and interviews contact the Refugee Action press office on 07771 748 159.
Notes to editors:
Refugee Action surveyed seven providers of English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes across England in areas with high populations of refugees.
The snapshot research, published in February, shows:
• Many providers reported refugees are waiting over a year for English lessons. For one provider the average wait is 20 months, with some learners waiting two years.
• For the majority of providers waiting lists for lessons stretch to almost 1,000 people. Two colleges have closed their lists to new students to cope with the backlog.
• Providers say the situation is getting worse, with a huge reduction in Government funding making it impossible to meet growing demand
• Colleges are being forced to increase class sizes and reduce the number of ESOL hours offered to learners
• A lack of childcare is regularly cited as a barrier to women being able to attend classes
The charity’s Let Refugees Learn campaign is calling on the Government to provide full and equal access to English language lessons for all refugees in Britain.