What you need to do

Embedding participation

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Refugee participation is often recognised as refugees accessing services, sharing stories, providing feedback, or taking part in advisory groups or in research – all those practices provide refugees with agency. However, refugee participation is more influential when organisations adopt more strategic approaches to include refugee voices, and when they provide the resources that are necessary to support this.  

Many organisations have different levels of participation built into their practices, sometimes because of statutory requirements or duties. Whether it’s the ‘duty to involve’ placed on some NHS organisations, the wider implications of the Public Sector Equality Duty, some organisations are already somewhat familiar with the language and practices of participation. For other organisations, refugee participation has become a value that defines their work and outcomes. 

Participation needs including in new and existing strategies, communications, or guidance for services or teams. For example, the new Refugee Integration Strategy for Yorkshire and Humber, ‘Making Connections, Building Resilience’, launched in early 2022, has participation as one of its strategic priority themes. It can also be achieved by formulating pledges, working towards a relevant accreditation of high standards in services for refugees, and/or forging partnerships and collaborations with refugee organisations and participation forums. 

Prioritising refugee participation (as well as other dimensions of integration) also require that suitable resources are allocated to it. This may include interpreting for refugees to access participation opportunities, and financial and other incentives. Although participation presupposes some costs, these should be seen strategically as investment in integration.

Suggested actions

  • Ensure that the senior leadership of your organisation understands the benefits of refugee participation through briefings, etc.  
  • Undertake a review of refugee participation in your service or organisation. What are the gaps? If participation processes exist, have they been monitored or evaluated? If they do not currently exist, how can we make refugee participation a new strategic priority? Identify key stakeholders and partnerships that can help develop refugee participation. You can also use trusted strategic analysis tools for this task such as SWOT analysis. 
  • Speak to colleagues and strategic or delivery partners. Are there any concrete examples of participation processes or structures that you can learn from and/or built upon? They may include different types of service users (e.g. homeless people, young people). Ask for details. 
  • If possible, develop a formal pledge to refugee participation. Ensure that it is added to any relevant strategic documents, action plans, and business planning processes, and that it is monitored with effective follow up procedures.  


The Yorkshire and Humber Refugee Integration Strategy
Last updated: 5th January 2023