Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise Sector

Summary
The Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise sector (VCSE) plays an essential role in addressing the needs of local communities, including those of refugees and migrants. As the demand for services and support in a particular area grows, so does the presence of VCSE organisations. It is worth noting that there is often a conjunction between areas with asylum accommodation and a subsequent concentration of these organisations. This could be due to various factors, including the high demand for services in these areas and the willingness of VCSE organisations to address the needs of vulnerable populations, such as refugees and asylum seekers.
What Is The Voluntary, Community And Social Enterprise (VCSE) Sector?
The voluntary and community sector (VCS) refers to a diverse group of organisations that operate independently of government and aim to improve the well-being of communities through voluntary efforts, fundraising, and charitable activities. The VCS includes charities, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), community groups, faith-based organisations, and other voluntary organisations.
Why Is The Voluntary, Community And Social Enterprise (VCSE) Sector Considered To Be Important for Refugees?
The VCSE plays a crucial and indispensable role in bridging the gaps in provision for refugees in the United Kingdom. The challenges encountered by refugees upon arrival in the country are formidable, and the VCSE’s support is critical in providing the necessary aid to fill the gaps and deficiencies in Home Office provision. By offering a comprehensive range of support services, including legal advice, transport, healthcare, education and language classes, employment support, and social activities, VCSE organisations play a pivotal role in facilitating refugees’ integration into the community and access to essential resources required to flourish.

Furthermore, VCSE organisations’ provision of services can alleviate the isolation and vulnerability that refugees often face, imparting a sense of community and belonging. In addition, the support provided by VCSE organisations can ease the pressure and mitigate some of the challenges faced by Local Authorities in supporting significant numbers of refugees.

How Does The Map Represent Available Data On The Voluntary, Community And Social Enterprise (VCSE) Sector Provision In The South West?
Data points on the map were generated from the .CSV file provided by the UK Charity Commission for England using a range of search parameters to generate a list of up-to-date charities relevant to the work undertaken by the Strategic Migration Partnership. Parameters included the keywords: ‘refugee’ and ‘asylum’. These VCSE organisations are represented on the map by a NGO symbol. There are two layers: regional and regional and throughout the UK and Wales. The regional layer is made of VCSE organisations which operate in the South West. The other layer is of VCSE organisations that operate both within the South West but also across England and Wales.
What Are The Trends And Patterns In VCSE Provision In The South West Region?
The Voluntary, Community, and Social Enterprise Sector (VCSE) has seen a significant growth in recent years, driven by the increasing demand for services and support from migrants and refugees.

As the number of refugees and migrants seeking support in a particular area grows, there is a corresponding increase in the presence of VCSE organisations, which offer vital assistance to these vulnerable populations. This trend is particularly evident in areas with asylum accommodation, where there is often a high concentration of VCSE organisations providing a range of services, from language and employment support to housing and legal assistance. In the South West, 60% of VCSE organisations related to refugee support appear in a close geographical proximity to areas where refugee and migrant are highest.

Locational circumstances are also a major factor for the creation and continued support of VCSE organisations. It is unsurprising that most VCSE organisations tend to cluster in urban areas, with factors such as population density and social and economic characteristics of the area influencing their location. In the South West, nearly three quarters of the VCSE provision related to migration can be found in urban areas.

A Case Study For The Propagation of VCSE Organisations

The Harbour Project

The Harbour Project emerged in May 2000 as a response to the plight of Kosovar Albanian refugees displaced by the violent conflicts in former Yugoslavia. With funding from the Baptist Church and support from other religious groups and organisations, The Harbour aimed to provide vital assistance to these refugees. Specifically, it focused on offering companionship, complimentary refreshments, and emergency support with food and clothing. Additionally, it provided basic guidance and directed individuals to the appropriate agencies.

In 2003, The Harbour Project for Swindon Refugees and Asylum Seekers was established as a registered Charitable Trust with a Charity Registration Number of 1097227. The organization’s annual income was approximately £30,000 in 2004/5. Swindon was designated as a “dispersal town” for Asylum seekers by the Home Office in 2006, and a 3-year grant was awarded by the Swindon Borough Council from 2006/7, providing stability and acknowledging the town’s status.

The Big Lottery Fund presented the organization with a significant award of £197,000, covering the period from 2012 to 2017, marking a turning point in the development of The Harbour Project. This award facilitated rapid expansion and a wider range of activities, providing the organization with medium-term stability around which other initiatives could converge. As a result, the charity’s annual income surpassed £100,000 for the first time in 2013/14, and HRH The Princess Royal’s visit in 2013 demonstrated growing recognition of the Project in the town.

The number of asylum seekers arriving in Swindon increased sharply in 2015/16, and around the same time, the Benefits System underwent significant changes, impacting refugees. However, The Project had robust procedures and enough flexibility to meet these challenges successfully. In 2016/17, The Project changed its legal status to that of a Charitable Incorporated Organisation, with a Charity Registration Number of 1171368. The charity’s annual income exceeded £155,000 by this time.

In 2017, the Big Lottery Award was renewed with funding extended until 2022. As part of the funding, the Trustees commissioned an independent consultant’s report to assess how to enhance organizational capabilities. One of the critical recommendations of the report was the appointment of a part-time fundraising-focused CEO. As a result, the cost base for 2017/18 rose to £169,000.

The Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner authorized The Harbour Project to provide Asylum and Protection Advice at OISC Level 1, with a registration number of N201800020.

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