The REN Annual Summit was held on the 10th of September 2020 via Zoom webinar. We were delighted to see more than 100 people attend the Summit representing a significant number of NGOs and local authorities from all over the country.
The REN Annual Summit focused on commitments to including refugees in the labour market recovery. We discussed a range of options that REN’s members can be involved in, which includes courses with the Open University and the DWP’s Sector Work Academy Programme. At the Summit, we announced the need to recruit for REN Trustees as REN will, we hope, be a charity by 1st April 2021.
REN had some significant speakers at the Summit, we were pleased to hear from Paul Scott from the DWP who introduced our members to DWP programmes like the Kickstart Programme as well as the Open University courses.
REN invited keynotes speakers (Hashi Mohamed) and speakers from TENT and the DWP.
Hashi Mohamed: an author from a refugee background gave an inspirational talk sharing his journey of success in the UK. It was great to hear the story of success into employment from Hashi who is currently reading from his book People Like Us and now is available on BBC Sounds.
REN Coordinator: Zeinab presented the results of COVID-19 survey and the impact of COVID-19 on our members and their work.
TENT: A Representative from TENT talked the audience through Global Trends of supporting refugees into employment.
DWP: Paul Scott from DWP explained how NGOs and local authorities can work closely with DWP in the different programmes of the Open University, KickStart Programme and sector based work academy.
REN Chair: Janice talked to the audience on how REN can support our members explaining the importance of working together as a network. Also, she talked about the next steps to be taken by REN.
At the REN launch summit in January 2019 the network indicated the clear demand for services to support employer engagement, with more than 85% of participants voting for REN to offer support in each of the following areas.
• Creating Opportunities: connecting employers with appropriate service providers
• Sign-Posting Best Practices: setting best practice guidelines in each service area
• Advice & Guidance: proactively offering support to organisations to attain these standards
Refugee Employment Network
In the last few years, several organisations have emerged with an increasing focus on supporting refugees in closing this gap - whether it be through direct employment, or using their skillsets to take advantage of self-employment opportunities. Acknowledging the scale of this challenge, there has been a common recognition of the need for deeper collaboration that cemented and promoted the most effective support solutions.
The Refugee Employment Network (REN) began out of this recognition, started by a group of organisations united by the vision of ensuring that every refugee in the UK would be able to access appropriate, fulfilling, paid employment or self-employment.
REN has received support from the Home Office and will establish the network as a separate legal entity by 31st March 2021