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Improving reach: promoting engagement by building bridges between refugee women and the voluntary sector

This paper presents the outcomes of the evaluation of a project undertaken within a leading specialist provider of services to refugees and asylum seekers in the North West of England. The project’s aim was to deliver the first stages of facilitating engagement between refugee women and the mainstream voluntary sector. Central to the project was the employmentof two refugee women to carry out much of the project work by acting as bridge builders connecting refugee communities and voluntary organisations with each other. This was done by providing a number of bridge-building activities to facilitate engagement opportunities. The findings confirmed that refugee women are a reservoir of untapped and unrecognised skills and qualifications, but they are under-represented in the mainstream voluntary sector because of multiple barriers and challenges. Bridge builders have a role in facilitating engagement, but raised concerns about the sustainability of such initiatives. The paper ends by suggesting some approaches to engagement for those working with refugees.

Author(s): Andrea Newman

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