Jill Summers works for the Liverpool City Council-based Safer & Stronger Community Team, which co-ordinates work around asylum seekers and refugees.
Meet the council members and officers working to welcome refugees…
The council has an important leadership role to play in welcoming newcomers to the city, in helping them understand their rights and responsibilities as new citizens of Liverpool and helping them fulfil their potential.
Whilst we are proud to be participating in the latest national scheme to help support refugees from Syria, it’s important to remember that Liverpool City Council has been welcoming and resettling refugees for many years. The history of the city is built on a rich tapestry of migration.
The Mayor himself has been very vocal in making swift commitments to take refugees in the wake of the 2015 migrant crisis, but also in calling for all local authorities to step up and play their part. The council also worked with communities in the wake of the Brexit vote to try to mitigate any negative impacts of that result.
We are well supported by our elected members who champion our work on a regular basis, advocating for movements such as City of Sanctuary and School of Sanctuary and supporting training and awareness sessions.
The council team, which co-ordinates work around asylum seekers and refugees, is called the Safer & Stronger Communities team. Officers are involved in many aspects of a refugee’s journey, from checking whether the type and location of accommodation is suitable, to funding community cohesion events and establishing and supporting supplementary schools for different communities.
The team also has to deal with situations where things aren’t working out, for example, where newcomers are experiencing hate crime or where the services being provided to them are falling short. Importantly, it also brings together key agencies to highlight issues and try to influence the national agenda.
But it’s not just us, there are colleagues in the Housing Options, Benefits, Legal Services and many more. From officers in our Communications team who ensure that fact and not fiction is in the public domain, to those in Children’s Services who look after unaccompanied asylum seeker children and those in School Improvement and Adult Learning Services who help those who arrive with little or no English; there are many dedicated officers doing their bit.
The current uncertainty around council and public sector funding in general, means that dedicating resources to these issues remains a challenge and we are constantly working with local groups to try to access funding and support.
Testing times are ahead with the changes in the Immigration Bill during 2017, but we remain positive as we hear stories of people embracing their new lives in the city, starting new businesses, making friends, putting down roots and becoming adopted Scousers.