For refugees arriving in the UK, integrating into society is often a challenge. Language barriers and a complex system mean those needing help often do not receive it. To help tackle this, Big Issue Invest – the investment arm of the Big Issue – is backing a multi-million pound scheme to help improve the lives of asylum seekers in Greater Manchester and the West Midlands
Big Issue Invest’s Outcomes Investment Fund (OIF) has invested into two Refugee Transitions Outcomes Fund (RTOF) contracts, awarded by the Home Office and providing over £5m of outcome payments to help refugees. Big Issue Invest hopes to aid the integration of nearly 1,000 refugees across the two areas.
Loans from the Outcomes Investment Fund will work their way to local authority, accommodation, employment and other partners to support refugees. With a focus on integrating support and evidencing a sustainable approach on the basis of this pilot, this is one of the largest investments from BII’s Outcome Investment Fund.
Refugees are entitled to use services in the UK but many don’t, and sometimes end up disengaging completely. Poor language skills and a lack of digital literacy can make things more difficult, as well as the challenges of demonstrating pre-existing qualifications.
These barriers also make getting a job that bit harder. During the pandemic, unemployment among refugees rose. Mental health problems and social isolation have also become more prominent – driven in part by a lack of face-to-face contact.