On 15 January 2019, the council approved a new City of Sanctuary statement, extending our commitment to include all refugees and migrants visiting, residing or working in the city.
Our new commitment also extends beyond offering a welcoming place of safety to creating a city which all people from refugee and migrant communities can successfully resettle and integrate in the UK.
Our aims are to prevent crisis and destitution amongst newly arriving refugees and migrants, but also to recognise the skills and assets they can bring with them and the contributions they can make to the city’s economy and communities.
Our approach is broad and diverse from providing access to opportunities to learn English to promoting employability opportunities, as well as supporting successful navigation through essential services, such as education, health and housing.
As one of the most ethnically-diverse cities in the UK, Birmingham is a friendly, cosmopolitan city which prides itself on the warm welcome it extends to people from all corners of the globe who want to make their home here, regardless of their situation.
Our commitment doesn’t provide preferential treatment for people from refugee and migrant communities, but we recognise that during an arrival, settlement and integration period asylum seekers, refugees and migrants face many disadvantages compared to people already living in and working here.
We are putting our extended commitment into action, in partnership, across education, social care, housing and homelessness, adult education, community safety (including domestic abuse, modern day slavery and hate crime), community cohesion, employment and skills, welfare and benefits, health, procurement, libraries, advice, neighbourhoods and communities.
We will work with partners to raise awareness of – and public interest in – issues relating to asylum seekers, refugees, migrants and new communities. This includes supporting activities such as Refugee Week, as well as promoting a good understand of refugee and migrant communities with our officers and Councillors.
To ensure we’re doing what we say we will, we will review the delivery of our commitments annually, reporting progress via the appropriate council scrutiny committee and to city stakeholders. This is supported via named leads across each political portfolio, directorate and service area to deliver our commitments.
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In June 2020 the Barms website went live, an online directory of organisations, services and groups committed to welcoming, supporting and resettling asylum seekers, refugees and migrants in Birmingham.
Birmingham City Council worked in partnership to develop the website as a direct response to the needs and wishes of our partners in the Birmingham Migration Forum.
Councillor John Cotton, Cabinet Member for Social Inclusion, Community Safety and Equalities at Birmingham City Council, said: “This is a fantastic resource which shows the wealth of support available from organisations who are working together to help asylum seekers, refugees and migrants arriving in our city.
“Bringing all these services into one space not only makes it easy to find necessary support, but also encourages collaboration and partnership to help people settle into new lives in Birmingham. I wish BARMS every success going forward.”
BARMS is a one stop directory to access information and services specific to migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. It facilitates communication between organisations and supports better collaboration and partnership working.