Integration is defined as the two-way process of mutual adaptation between migrants and host societies into the social, economic, cultural and political life of the community. As such, integration is a cross-cutting and multi-sectoral issue that impacts all aspects of the lives of migrants and communities, which also entails a set of joint responsibilities for migrants and host communities. Integration is essential for all stakeholders, not only as a way of providing economic and cultural benefits but also for ensuring the security and stability of societies as a whole. IOM supports policies and strategies that promote the social, economic and cultural inclusion of migrants within existing legal frameworks.
One of the main challenges of creating an effective integration policy is to make sure that it intersects with other major policy areas, including the protection of migrants’ human rights and equal opportunities, employment and labour market issues, regional development, national security, social cohesion, public health, education, and naturalization and citizenship issues. IOM works with government, non-government and private sector stakeholders in countries of destination and countries of origin to address specific integration challenges, and to develop joint policy strategies and identify concrete support measures.
In the UK, IOM works to develop strategies that help migrants better integrate into new communities, as well as assists receiving communities to recognize the positive contributions that migrants can make. This two-way integration process is essential for the existence of thriving, multicultural communities.
Moving from a vulnerable situation in a country of first asylum to another country you have never seen before can be daunting. To better prepare refugees for what to expect in the UK, IOM provides pre-departure orientation sessions for resettling refugees.
Pre-departure orientation (PDO) prepares refugees by providing practical information about the UK to help set realistic goals and to better adapt to their new home. IOM works closely with the Home Office to develop a curriculum including a general introduction to the UK (climate and weather, the political system, demographics, etc.), post-arrival services, employment, housing, education in the UK, the law, health systems, British values and cultural adaptation. In 2018, IOM also began sessions specifically tailored to children with age appropriate information to address any fears associated with moving to an unfamiliar country.
Pre-departure orientation is intended to provide refugees with a general foundation of information for life in the UK, rather than a comprehensive picture of what an individual’s specific experience will be. It is therefore important to anticipate that many individuals will still encounter a transition period as they adjust to life in the UK and build relationships within their new community. This is natural and a part any cultural adaptation process.
Refugee Information Sessions
Integration works best when both refugees and those receiving them have a good understanding of each other’s expectations, cultural differences and practices. By exploring refugees’ perspectives, experiences and needs, host communities can increase their understanding and adapt their support to be even more effective by earning the buy-in of those they seek to assist. Since 2016, IOM has been delivering Refugee Information Sessions to local authorities and receiving communities across the UK. This may help reduce the adjustment period for refugees and support strong integration services.
Sessions are adapted to different audiences, including those working in councils, social support, health, police and emergency services, education, employment support, volunteering and community/faith groups. All Refugee Information Sessions are CPD-certified and conducted by invitation from local authorities. IOM facilitators travel around the country tailoring each session for the specific needs of the area and can incorporate sessions into existing trainings. If you are interested in Refugee Information Sessions in your region, please contact [email protected]
Ensuring migrants and refugees can contribute economically and socially to their host communities is key to the future well-being, prosperity and cohesion of communities. Yet there can be barriers to integration such as an inability to transfer qualifications, differences in cultural values, insufficient language skills, and a mismatch between experience and opportunities.
IOM aims to reduce these barriers by analysing employer and migrant needs, creating opportunities for migrants and developing partnerships for increased employer and migrant engagement.
IOM’s LINK IT project was carried out in 2018-2019 to provide resettled refugees with the building blocks to start a new life in Europe. Funded by the European Union, the project piloted a skills profiling tool for refugees living in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey who were resettled to the UK, Germany, Portugal or Romania during their pre-departure orientation course. It also provided post-arrival orientation and training activities once the refugees had arrived and helped prepare local governments and employers to receive resettled refugees, dispel myths and provide a channel to share best practices in the larger European context.
For more information on the LINK IT project, click here