After Voluntary Action Sheffield contacted me over the risk to their funding for refugee integration in Sheffield, I took the issue up immediately with the Government, working with the Refugee Council and British Red Cross. I am immensely relieved that funding for vital work integrating refugees will now continue in the case of a ‘no deal’.
Currently, the UK receives £40m of EU funding from the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF), which goes to supporting refugees to improve English language skills, access housing and reducing isolation. This includes a project run by Voluntary Action Sheffield (VAS) which has supported 549 refugees in our city since January this year.
When they were applying for this funding, refugee organisations were assured by the Government that it would be guaranteed, even in a ‘no deal’ Brexit. However, on 12th September they received a letter informing them that, despite previous assurances, the guarantee would not apply to them.
I wrote to Michael Gove, the Minister in charge of ‘no deal’ planning. It was the first time the issue had been raised with Ministers and have now received confirmation that refugee funding will be guaranteed, even if the UK leaves the EU without a deal. The Government’s initial funding u-turn was outrageous, and I am glad we have managed to get them back on the right track.
As a Shadow Brexit Minister, I am doing everything in my power to avoid a ‘no deal’ exit, but this announcement makes it absolutely certain that, whatever happens, refugees will continue to be supported in Sheffield.” Paul Harvey, Volunteer Centre Manager at Voluntary Action Sheffield, who I worked with closely on this campaign, said
“Without Paul’s intervention we would not have the essential assurances that we do now, and may have had to close down our project supporting over 500 refugees in Sheffield on October 31st.
This decision has shown that, with the help of a supportive local MP, raising awareness of issues and local campaigning can have an impact on a national level. Particularly at this time we need to know our voices can make a difference and Paul’s support getting this result does that.”