Cornwall’s first ever leadership conference focusing on the resettlement of refugees in our communities will take place on World Refugee Day (June 20).
The event – named Compassion Into Action: Cornwall's World Refugee Day – will bring together leaders and senior managers from the county’s public services as well as invited guests from local refugee support networks.
Led by Cornwall Council leader Cllr Linda Taylor, it will also feature a keynote speech from Larry Bottinick, the Senior Legal Officer from the UK office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Mr Bottinick, from Washington D.C. in the United States, is visiting Cornwall to meet with Cllr Taylor and cabinet colleagues to discuss regional responses to the challenge of integrating refugees in ways that benefit both residents and new arrivals.
He is expected to address the conference about the global context shaping the international people flows which have recently garnered so much public attention.
Mr Bottinick will also talk about approaching the global refugee situation from a legal and pragmatic perspective, the importance of responding positively to the issues faced by refugees and asylum seekers, as well as providing an overview of the current refugee resettlement schemes operated by the Home Office.
In particular, he is expected to speak about the value of taking a collaborative approach to refugee integration, as Cornwall is doing with its new Resettlement Service.
For the second part of the conference, Cornwall’s school leaders will get together for a special training event aimed at exploring the role of schools in cultural and community leadership.
While he is in Cornwall, Mr Bottinick will be talking to school leaders about the importance of education in helping communities benefit from supporting asylum seekers and refugees.
Cllr Linda Taylor, Leader of Cornwall Council, said: “Here in Cornwall we have a proud history of offering sanctuary to people who need it and since 2014 we have been providing a home for refugees fleeing conflict through the various Home Office resettlement schemes.
“It is a sad fact that global forces such as war, famine and climate change mean more people than ever are being displaced from their home countries, which is why we need to further develop our joint action plans to support refugees and asylum seekers in Cornwall.
“We hope this conference will represent the initial step of bringing together everyone currently working with refugees and asylum seekers, as well as those yet to be involved, as we develop a 10-year strategy for Cornwall.”
Kate Evan-Hughes, Service Director for Education and Community Health at Cornwall Council, will give an overview of how young refugees and asylum seekers have integrated into our schools and colleges so far, based on the survey that Cornwall’s educational effectiveness service has recently undertaken.
There will also be an emphasis on ‘trauma-informed practice’ and creating safe spaces for children separated from their families within the asylum system. As part of this, headteachers will share their learnings about teaching and supporting young refugees and their classmates through challenging transitions.
Five new films produced by CHAOS Media featuring local refugees, and a film made by young refugees themselves as part of their studies at Cornwall College, will be released during Refugee Week, which runs from June 19 to 23.
The conference comes just over a month after a new Home Office-funded outreach team began work in Cornwall to help refugees and asylum seekers integrate into and strengthen our communities.
Published 07 June, 2023