On 25-26 March 2013, the SHARE City Exchange Visit Programme welcomed a delegation of 16 participants from the Swedish counties of Gävleborg, Västerbotten and Jämtland. The participation of delegates from the county of Gävleborg was co-funded by the LANDA Project, led by the County Administrative Board of Gävleborg. You can download a copy of the programmes for Day 1 in Sheffield, Day 2 (Hull) and Day 2 (Bradford).
Participants were drawn from the following organisations and institutions:
- County Administrative Boards (CABs - from Gävleborg and Västerbotten). CABs are regional government bodies responsible for linking local communities and municipalities with the central government of Sweden. CABs are responsible for ensuring capacity to receive refugees in municipalities across their county and facilitating municipal cooperation on refugee reception and integration. You can download the presentation on the the role of CABs in the Swedish resettlement programme given in Sheffield.
- Municipal integration services - The delegation included 11 participants from the integration services of 10 different municipalities, working in areas such as reception planning, initial orientation, long-term integration advice and support, and education and social support for resettled children.
- Swedish Public Employment Service (Arbetsförmedlingen) - with 320 local branches across Sweden, the PES is responsible for ensuring that new arrivals to Sweden (including resettled refugees) become established in the labour market as soon as possible. The PES has the national coordinating responsiblity for integration, and local branches work closely with municipalities to plan integration programmes for refugees and other new arrivals. You can download a copy of the presentation given by the Public Employment Service delegates in Sheffield.
On the morning of Day 1 of the programme, the delegation met with the city of Sheffield and its partners to discuss their local resettlement programmes, the towns and cities in which they take place and the roles of their respective organisations. Subsequent discussions focused strongly on the differences in the role of municipalities and civil society organisations in Sweden and the UK, and the strong UK culture of volunteering as compared to Sweden. Participants also discussed how national asylum contexts can impact on the availability of housing for local resettlement programmes. Delegates also learned how health services in Sheffield work with traumatised refugees, and heard from a landlord who provides properties for resettled refugees in Sheffield about why he became involved in the programme.
On the afternoon of Day 1, the delegation split into 3 groups for site visits to a local school working with resettled pupils, to housing provided for resettled refugees and to the central Sheffield health clinic providing services to asylum seekers and refugees. The final session of Day 1 was hosted by the New Beginnings Project at Voluntary Action Sheffield (VAS), which has provided voluntering opportuities for refugees and asylum seekers in the city for the past 8 years. The session introduced a methodology for creating volunteer roles, and facilitated delegate discussion on the challenges and benefits of promoting volunteering in the Swedish context. You can download the VAS 'Guide to Avoiding Job Substitution' in volunteering, and visit the 'Nuts & Bolts' page of the VAS website to watch a video tutorial on creating volunteer roles.
On Day 2, 8 delegates visited Hull for a programme hosted by the Resettlement Team of the British Refugee Council that introduced the team's practice in the areas of stakeholder engagement, integration support, community development and English language-learning. The programme also included the opportunity to observe a consultation on pre-departure Cultural Orientation conducted by the UK Border Agency with a group of Sudanese refugees resettled to Hull. You can download the presentations on the Hull resettlement programme and on Refugee Council integration support given by the Hull Resettlement Team.
The remaining 8 delegates visited the city of Bradford, where they were hosted by Horton Housing Association. The Bradford programme incorporated site visits to Horton's Training Centre, where resettled refugees (together with other refugees and migrants) access English language classes, to a specialist reception team working with non-English speaking pupils at a local school, and Horton's healthcare partner. Delegates also leaned about Horton's wider work with migrants from newer EU 'accession states', and met with refugees resettled to Bradford to discuss their experiences.