Refugees have been through a lot. At the very least they have fled from their home, and left behind family and friends. They may also have been:
- Victims of armed conflict
- Persecuted for their beliefs
- Suffered human rights abuses
- Faced torture and imprisonment
On top of that, they will often have been living for long periods in neighbouring countries, in a precarious, even dangerous situation, often in refugee camps.
Despite all this, refugees often show remarkable resilience, optimism and ‘can do’ spirit. Resettled refugees are generally hugely grateful for the opportunity to come to somewhere safe and secure like the UK and are determined to make the most of the new start they have been given.
But there is no disguising the fact that refugees can be vulnerable individuals, scarred by the experiences they have gone through, as well as struggling to adjust to life in a strange place. It is common too for them to be anxious about family or friends who they have left behind. All this, and the fact that families often include children, means you must take safeguarding very seriously.
This doesn’t mean you have to be experts in trauma or mental health issues. What it does mean is that you have to know what to look for and who to turn to if issues arise.
More basically than that, you are required to undergo the checks and put in place the procedures that all people supporting vulnerable adults and children face. These could include criminal background or Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks.
To meet the safeguarding criteria, your safeguarding policy will need to include:
Sponsor Refugees has put together a comprehensive safeguarding policy template that groups may wish to use as a reference point. You will see where this needs to be tailored to the individual group. The policy should ideally be supported with relevant safeguarding training for both the Designated Safeguarding Lead and relevant members of the group who will have direct contact with the family.