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Refugee resettlement

As a place of sanctuary and welcome with a long history of supporting refugee communities to thrive, Islington is proud to directly participate in refugee resettlement schemes and help residents who also make their homes available for this humanitarian response.

Government resettlement schemes

What we have done for resettling refugees and migrants

We work to resettle vulnerable people displaced by conflict, and we are grateful for the support from our residents who are also working hard to make Islington a place of safety for refugees and migrants. Our work has developed over time as conditions change and new resettlement routes are created.

  • 2015: Resettlement of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC) who fled the Syrian Civil War and while other conflicts began. 
  • 2016: We joined the Vulnerable Persons/Children Resettlement Schemes, launched with the aim of resettling 20,000 Syrians and 3,000 at-risk children across the whole UK by 2020. We also began giving oversight and approval to community sponsorship groups in the borough. 
  • 2020: The refugee resettlement pathways were merged into a UK Resettlement Scheme open to anyone in need of protection identified by UNHCR.
  • 2021: As part of the evacuation of Afghans following the withdrawal of coalition forces, Islington began welcoming individuals and families through different pathways. Our dedicated resettlement team continue to help people find sanctuary and rebuild their lives here in the borough. 
  • 2021: Increases in the backlog of asylum applications meant that special contingency hotels were used to house people waiting for a decision on their claim. Along with supporting those in the hotels, we help newly-granted refugees with move-on support once they leave the hotel. 
  • 2022: Following the invasion of Ukraine, we have supported local residents who have offered their homes and rooms to Ukrainians.

This work is on top of statutory duties to support refugees and migrants in the borough, for example people with no recourse to public funds. 

We have supported hundreds of people to overcome past trauma and start new lives, helping make Islington a thriving, more equal borough. Looking to the future, we have also made the following commitments.

  • Purchase more properties using Greater London Authority (GLA) buy-back funding.
  • Continue oversight and approval of community sponsorship groups in the borough.
  • Being part of any new resettlement schemes as part of our Borough of Sanctuary work.
  • Support international and domestic humanitarian efforts as much as possible.

How resettlement works in Islington

The key parts of refugee resettlement in Islington are:

  • all properties we reserve for refugee resettlement must be in Islington
  • working in partnership with health, education and employment services - along with the support of the voluntary and community sector (VCS) - to deliver intensive integration support
  • empowering refugees through employment and self-sufficiency, which is central to long-term resettlement
  • resettlement must enhance our support to other disadvantaged residents and help make Islington a more equal place. 

What successful resettlement and integration looks like in Islington

Resettlement is not a straightforward process for our refugee residents, who arrive from a diverse set of difficult circumstances and have the overwhelming task of starting a new life in a foreign country.

The aim of Islington’s resettlement model is to support individuals and families in achieving their full abilities to have fulfilled lives, become self-sufficient and contribute to the community. Resettlement can take years, and our team knows that the set of needs, goals and challenges each person has can be very different.

Islington takes a person-centred approach to support individuals and families in rebuilding their lives after arriving in the UK through Home Office resettlement routes. We do this by assigning families a caseworker to help set and achieve agreed goals.

Also, Islington is committed to developing strategic partnerships with existing local authority and health services, as well as VCS organisations, to support the needs of refugees and contribute to the overall improvement of these services.

Resettlement process

We ensure support for new arrivals by: 

  • securing accommodation within the borough, ensuring housing is to a set good standard and ready to move into
  • assigning caseworkers to support each family with accessing the essentials of living in the UK, such as getting ID, bank accounts, entitled benefits for income and essential health service registrations 
  • our caseworkers helping individuals and families make sense of their responsibilities and entitlements with managing income and finances in the UK, like setting up and paying rent, bills, council tax and other essential expenses  
  • registering children at local schools and nurseries, supporting families to access all education essentials and meeting with school staff for an immediate and effective start  
  • supporting adults and children aged 16 to 18 to enrol into English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes at local colleges or Islington Adult Community Learning, suited to their existing levels and designed for helping gain qualifications  
  • assessing work-readiness upon arrival and supporting access to employment or training  
  • ensuring adults or children with support needs look for the right health and social care support to manage this effectively. 

Over time, caseworkers work with individuals and families to make sense of how they can regain their sense of self and belonging in Islington and make the most of the opportunities presented here. This can include:

  • supporting people to make sense of how they can contribute to the UK as Islington residents, for example through linking them with local voluntary or community organisations
  • supporting access to desired training and qualifications to meet their long-term employment goals, in line with specially-designed support for improving English
  • supporting individuals and families’ understanding of laws, systems and procedures so they know their entitlements to statutory services and how to access support if needed  
  • supporting access to adequate primary and secondary healthcare for both physical and mental health concerns  
  • helping people to understand the leisure activities, events and programmes on offer for Islington residents and families.

More help and information

To find out more, email

To learn how you can help, read our advice on giving help to refugees.

Find out more if you are worried about your immigration status.

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