Community cohesion: Asylum seekers and refugees need better integration into Sheffield, says council

Sheffield Town Hall
Sheffield Town Hall

Better integration for asylum seekers, refugees and other new groups coming to Sheffield is a key issue in the city, say council chiefs.

Sheffield Council is undertaking a review of its approach to Roma new arrivals as part of a widespread Community Cohesion strategy. The council has spent the past three years working on the strategy and this is part of a series of stories looking at it.

Angela Greenwood, community services manager at Sheffield Council, says in a report:  “We will undertake a review of our approach to Roma new arrivals in Sheffield to learn from our actions so far.

“We will continue to support the work of the charities that work with the most vulnerable asylum seekers and refugees newly arrived in Sheffield.

“And we will ensure people new to Sheffield know and understand their rights and responsibilities and know what we will tolerate and not tolerate in Sheffield.”

Additional funding, including new £835,000 of government funding, will mitigate the pressures on communities and public services from rapid recent migration.

There will be street wardens in the afternoons, evenings and weekends and community workers listening to residents’ concerns and working with them to improve their neighbourhoods.  

Frontline services at a community level will be better coordinated and there will be a more organised and formal welcome for new arrivals

The council promises to meet with people to understand their fears, frustrations and concerns for their area.

The report adds: “Trained mediators will work with councillors and officers in changing communities at the very local level who want to have honest and difficult conversations in a safe and controlled environment so everyone can voice their concerns and worries and for us to listen to them better and understand the current dynamics of a community.

“We have used our values to be bolder and taken pragmatic and impactful steps which stop problematic issues, perceptions and behaviours becoming ingrained in communities and cultures.

“Being clearer about what Sheffield accepts and does not accept, challenging the things we do not accept, and resolving some of the day-to-day problems that ultimately drive inequality and cause people to feel frustrated, not listened to or excluded will give us a much better chance of creating a fairer city where people get on and grow together.

“We need to support existing and new residents of Sheffield to be more integrated and get on if communities and the city as a whole is to be a successful, growing and inclusive place to live.”

There will be training on migration trends for all council staff and partners. A new Sheffield Cohesion Hub will be set up as an “independent hub of expertise” and a £30,000 fund will support successful projects across the city.

The council will increase the use of libraries and promote them as “a free and safe space to use and come together with others to learn.

The report adds: “Improving community cohesion through the council’s work will become embedded in our daily work. Equally important is the need for our staff and contractors to be aware of, and identify and reduce tensions where possible and to ensure any unforeseen negative actions are mitigated.”

The council worked with voluntary, community and faith organisations on the new strategy and the result was an in-depth report called Sheffield Together: The Sheffield Cohesion Framework.   

The full report can be read here:

http://democracy.sheffield.gov.uk/documents/s32561/Cohesion%20Charter%20Report.pdf