Our CEO, Enver Solomon, sets out six key changes that are within the Refugee Council’s new strategy
It is seven decades since the Refugee Council was established in 1951, the year the UK government signed the UN Convention on Refugees. Today, we are well established as one of the leading refugee organisations – not only working with thousands of people each year, but also fighting for reform. 70 years on we are at a critical juncture. We are operating in one of the most hostile and challenging environments for refugee protection in our history. Achieving our mission has never been harder nor more important.
That’s why, in collaboration with the refugees we work with, our staff, volunteers, partners and supporters, we have produced an ambitious new strategic direction for the Refugee Council that builds on our strengths and achievements while shifting our approach to ensure the greatest impact. There are six key changes that are within our new strategy that I want to highlight.
Firstly, generous leadership and collaboration will be a greater priority for us. Being collaborative is one of our four new values – the others are that we will be inclusive, courageous and respectful. We see working with others as vital to have the collective impact necessary to achieve change. In practice, this will mean working more with refugee community organisations, building relationships with new allies across all sectors and working with partners to deliver systems change by sharing practice, knowledge and expertise.
Secondly, we are making a commitment to work with, not for, refugees and people seeking asylum, so they have an equal voice ensuring their expertise and experiences are at the heart of what we do. Achieving this won’t be easy as we have a long way to go. Our first step will be to produce a whole organisation approach to the equitable engagement and involvement of people with lived experience in all our work. As part of this we also want to develop pathways for our staff and volunteers with lived experience to support their career progression and development.
Thirdly, we will inspire positive attitudes towards refugees – speaking out for compassion, fairness and kindness. It has never been more important to ensure a strong and united voice of support for refugees and people seeking asylum. We want to reach far wider audiences and gain new supporters and allies to join our ranks. Continuing to play a major role in the Together with Refugees coalition will be an important part on this.
Fourthly, we intend to courageously speak out to achieve reform at the national and local level. While we will see national and local Government as an important partner, we are firmly committed to speak truth to those with power. We are setting ourselves an ambitious goal of achieving a landmark win at the national level, as well as working locally to change the quality of provision and support for refugees in at least two areas. In this regard we will not only be an important provider of services but also a ‘system-changer’.
Fifthly, through our service provision we want to focus on quality and not just quantity. Our ambition is to significantly improve access to quality support for refugees in crisis and those seeking to integrate into the UK. We want to be able to clearly demonstrate the impact of our services to enable refugees to improve their wellbeing, live with dignity and rebuild their lives. Our strategy deliberately sets out specific measures of success for this, alongside our intention to start reporting on specific outcomes for all our services.
Finally, we need to develop and invest in our organisation so our work on equality, diversity and inclusion, our systems and processes, our use of data and digital technologies and our support and training for staff and volunteers is all improved. We want to be transparent and recognise where, and how, we can learn and do better. This will take time and real focus but we are determined to make it happen.
All these six priorities are equally important rather than being ranked in order of importance. They are intentionally very ambitious because we believe the world as it is today requires us to be so. We will move forward decisively and powerfully – working together to achieve real change with refugees, our staff, volunteers, supporters and partners.
To find out more about how you can get involved in our work, please visit Get Involved section on our website.