Maximising the benefits of participation for all

Inclusive participation

You can make participation more accessible and inclusive when you consider a range of characteristics of refugees such as ethnic or national background, religion, urban/rural background, disability, age, gender, year of arrival in the UK, immigration status, literacy in their first language, and refugees who do not identify with heteronormative sexualities or gender identities. Participation should also reflect a range of intersecting identities. 

We must recognise that every refugee is a unique person and we must avoid one-size-fits-all, although there are several participation tools that can help you design processes and activities that are as inclusive as possible.

  • While consulting with large groups, for instance, you can offer safe and confidential spaces for certain groups of refugees such women, young people, or LGBTQI refugees. Some refugees may not be comfortable to talk openly in mixed group environments.
  • As different cultures adapt to migration and globalisation, organising separate participation activities for young or older refugees can help prevent intergenerational conflict, and facilitating women-only spaces can be very effective in tackling the effects of patriarchy.
  • The same dynamics applies to different refugee groups affected by ongoing or historical conflict based on national, political, or ethnic differences.

Additionally, you must ensure that refugees who have disabilities or long-term illnesses, as well as carers, are actively supported to participate in activities by choosing the most effective methods and tools. It is important to recognise the stigma that many people with disabilities suffer in some refugee communities.

Information and communication, as well as other activities, can be tailored to different refugee groups. There are several organisations in Yorkshire and Humber that can help you engage with certain groups, and you can use the list at the end of this Toolkit, or contact Migration Yorkshire for more information.

For more inclusivity, a number of practical steps can be taken, for example you should:

  • Ensure that engagement with, and recruitment of, participants include targeting a number of refugee groups
  • Offer personalised support to ensure that participants feel included and can express their views, for instance, by checking in at regular supervision meetings
  • Always monitor and evaluate participation activities and investigate if some key refugee groups are not included and/or they do not respond well to engagement activity.
  • Ensure that participation activities meet religious and cultural needs, for instance praying time and spaces
  • Be open minded and willing to learn from refugees from different backgrounds, and understand the social and political dynamics within refugee communities
  • Always include people who have different immigrant statuses, for example asylum seekers, while understanding the impacts that the UK immigration and asylum systems have on individuals

By prioritising and promoting inclusivity and accessibility during the participation process, and doing it consistently, you can access a wider pool of knowledge from people who have lived experience. This will keep your service or organisation better informed, more accountable, and will make it more likely to meet the needs of all refugees, regardless of their background or characteristics.

Suggested actions

  • Write an accessibility and inclusion policy statement or protocol for your refugee participation activities. Being transparent and proactive about those goals is a necessary first step towards achieving them.
  • Consider all the options that you have to commission or access interpreting and translation services for your refugee participation activities. Sometimes you will be able to use services already commissioned by your organisation. In any case, obtain and compare quotes, and engage with refugee organisations and other services to find out about other options.
Last updated: 5th January 2023