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Shared ground: integrating migrants in Wales

April 22nd 2020

Wales is becoming a more diverse society, yet while many celebrate this there is little discussion about how to successfully manage the impact of population change. The Welsh Government is responsible for the broad range of policies that support integration including health and social care, equalities, housing, education and is a key player in ensuring communities are cohesive.

Whilst we found that the Welsh Government has demonstrated its commitment to integration, there are a number of issues and challenges that undermine some of the good work which is currently underway to support integration. Some migrants have a very positive experience of settling in Wales, however others face a number of issues which prevent integration:

  • Many migrants lack knowledge about their rights and can face discrimination when accessing services.
  • Community relations on the surface appear positive, but some people have experienced or witnessed racist abuse; issues often go unreported.
  • Language acquisition is an important contributor to integration, yet many cannot access the support they need.
  • Many rely on poorly skilled or informal interpreters.
  • There are few opportunities for meaningful social contact, and many people end-up isolated with few opportunities to integrate.
  • Migrants often find it difficult to move from casual interactions to making social connections.
  • Integration is often viewed as a ‘newcomer’ issue, rather than a ‘two-way’ process.

In order to ensure migrants feel accepted and welcomed we believe there are a number of things the Welsh Government could implement to strengthen its current approach to integration, and could build on what has already been achieved by:

  • Ramping up national action through the development of a comprehensive national integration strategy and campaign.
  • Demonstrating commitment to all migrants through welcome receptions and designated national days to recognise and celebrate different cultures.
  • Preventing discrimination so that all migrants are treated fairly and able to access their entitlements by training front line public sector staff on the rights of migrant groups.
  • Increasing the cohesion capacity of local authorities.
  • Ensuring a cross sector approach to integration.
  • Considering the idea of a Welsh ‘civic’ citizenship pledge to address public concerns about migration, and to promote a sense of belonging to those who come to work, live, study and seek sanctuary in Wales.

The forthcoming  changes to the immigration system present Wales with a unique opportunity to challenge some of the narrative around migration and meet some of the concerns head-on. We call on the Welsh Government to begin that debate by developing a strategic integration framework.

Report format:PDF

Language: English

Page: 55

Cost: Free

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