New grants fund will help community groups support refugees

Published: Thursday, March 30, 2023

  • More financial support to help those fleeing persecution
  • Continues Wandsworth’s long tradition of welcoming refugees
  • Financial aid to help vulnerable new arrivals integrate and thrive

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Wandsworth's Mayor Jeremy Ambache recently met with representatives from Wandsworth Welcomes Refugees

Wandsworth’s intention to become a Borough of Sanctuary that welcomes and supports refugees and asylum seekers has been reinforced with the creation of a new £200,000 council fund to deliver programmes that improve the lives and wellbeing of people forced to flee their homelands.

The council has pledged to show it is a more compassionate borough by supporting and celebrating all refugees, migrants and asylum seekers who live in Wandsworth.

Over the past year, the number of refugees in the borough has continued to rise – especially those forced to leave Ukraine following the Russian invasion.

The most recent figures show that Wandsworth has supported the arrival of more than 880 refugees under the national Homes for Ukraine scheme - the second highest number in London and the fifth highest in the country. People fleeing that conflict have joined those settled in the borough under the Syrian and Afghan resettlement schemes – with further arrivals expected soon under the Home Office’s new dispersal model.

In order to offer these new Wandsworth residents a warm welcome, help them adjust to life in a new country and integrate with existing communities, the council is now making additional funds available to local community and voluntary groups that can deliver projects that support the council’s Borough of Sanctuary strategy. These new grants are part of a wider package of £2m which will improve and enhance the support and assistance available to refugees who move to Wandsworth. This fund will be at no cost to Council taxpayers.

This initial grant fund of £200,000 will be available to voluntary, community, faith and social enterprise groups based in the borough that deliver projects which support the town hall’s four main priorities. These are:

Community Integration Support
Helping new and recent refugees and asylum seeker arrivals to the borough to integrate into life in the UK and their local community.

• Wellbeing
Supporting activities which promote refugee and asylum seeker’s wellbeing, including counselling services for those who have experienced trauma and also the delivery of sports, fitness and leisure opportunities.

• Voluntary and Community Groups Capacity
Supporting initiatives that build the capacity of the voluntary and community sector to deliver a range of services for refugees.

• Celebrating Refugees and Asylum Seekers
Supporting projects which celebrate refugee contributions, which tackle misinformation and those that provide a platform and a voice for groups and individual refugees.

Community groups will be able to bid for grants of up to £10,000 to deliver projects lasting between six and 12 months – with additional funding possible for exceptional initiatives.

This latest round of funding follows previous grants provided to help refugee arrivals in Wandsworth, including £100,000 for Citizens Advice Wandsworth to provide an information and advice service for hosts and guests for a two year period and £75,000 to the White Eagle Club in Balham to enable them to expand their capacity to coordinate activities to support Ukrainian refugees including ESOL classes, cultural activities and to build a peer-support network for Ukrainian arrivals.

Kemi Akinola, Deputy Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for the Voluntary Sector, Business Engagement and Culture, said: “We are fully committed to becoming a Borough of Sanctuary for those fleeing wars and repression around the world.

“Improving our services to vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers who move to Wandsworth is a key component of our determination to make Wandsworth a fairer and more compassionate borough, committed to improving the daily lives of all who live here.

“This new grant funding for our amazing voluntary organisations and community groups will ensure that the support is in place to help newly arrived vulnerable people to establish themselves in new surroundings, overcome the trauma they may have experienced and to thrive and become valued new residents of our borough.”

Councillor Ambache also met volunteers from refugee charity Care4Calais