Refugee Week 2021: supporting refugees into employment
Our partnership with Breaking Barriers has supported refugees to unlock their potential and find meaningful employment. Karen Higgins shares her reflections on it.
To mark Refugee Week 2021 (14-20 June) I have been thinking about our work over recent years with Breaking Barriers, a charity committed to supporting refugees into meaningful employment. We have achieved so much, overcome challenges, and met many incredible people because we have worked together, hand in hand, every step of the way. The theme of Refugee Week this year is 'We Cannot Walk Alone' and we are so pleased to join Fuse, Breaking Barriers’ network of like-minded businesses that are coming together to celebrate and support people of refugee background in the UK.
"We have achieved so much, overcome challenges, and met many incredible people because we have worked together, hand in hand, every step of the way."
Having had no prior experience of working with refugees we became one of Breaking Barriers’ founding partners in January 2018, and since that time have managed work placements and employability workshops covering a range of topics including networking and interview skills. We were the first corporate partner to co-host an employability workshop and were the first to host these sessions virtually in 2020, ensuring Breaking Barriers’ clients continued to receive the support needed at a time when they have been disproportionally disadvantaged by COVID-19. Working with individuals during these workshops has highlighted the quality of talent out there and it is an absolute privilege for us to share our skills and offer guidance to support refugees in their career journey.
Our first full-time refugee placement was a huge success and gave the individual the much-needed confidence to secure a permanent role in the education sector. Our first hire into the business arrived following another successful placement and although the current circumstances have made this work more difficult, we have recently directly hired two clients of Breaking Barriers into the firm.
Our efforts to support refugees into employment were recognised last year and we were officially acknowledged among Business in the Community’s (BITC) 2020 Responsible Business Champions. The Unipart Outstanding Employment Award, created by BITC, celebrates businesses that are helping people from marginalised social groups to find work so they can thrive in their professions and careers.
As a socially responsible business, we believe talent deserves a chance to thrive regardless of background. Working with refugees benefits both our economy and society while underlining our commitment to creating an inclusive culture. It’s also highly rewarding for our people who can share their skills, experience and insight to instil confidence in those seeking employment and adapting to life in the UK.
Joining Fuse will ensure we share best practice and collectively learn, grow, and take action, to achieve more for refugees in the UK. Although we have already achieved a lot in this space, we want to continue to create an even greater impact through our interventions, celebrate the valuable contribution made by refugees in our business and society and continue to lead through inclusive, responsible business.
Businesses who would like to take the first step in supporting refugees in the UK can join the Fuse webinar on 17 June to learn more!
Hosted by Hani Kablawi, Chairman of International at BNY Mellon and CEO and Founder of Breaking Barrers Matthew Powell, the webinar features an amazing panel who will share their valuable insight and learnings about unlocking the potential of refugees.