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UK Saharawi Diaspora Project
Research
In 2022 and early 2023, Sandblast conducted a pioneering research project to assess the impact of COVID-19 on the Saharawi community in the UK, particularly those who are asylum seekers and recent migrants. Below is a summary of the research that was conducted reflected in the report called 'Shedding Light on the UK Diaspora'
SUMMARY
OF THE PROJECT
 Summary in Arabic
The aim of the research was to understand the pandemic’s effects on Saharawi’s social, economic, and cultural well-being, healthcare access, and diaspora experiences in the UK. Additionally, the research aimed to investigate the community’s coping strategies and resilience in facing the challenges brought on by COVID-19 and to identify the areas where support is needed.
The study was conducted through interviews and voice messages with the collection of qualitative data. The report produced a plethora of recommendations for how to better support the Saharawi community.
The recommendations include rebuilding social ties, promoting solidarity, addressing mental health concerns, enhancing access to healthcare, and fostering ties with local communities. Additionally, the report suggests creating a virtual platform to provide advice, language programs, translation services and links to essential services.
Furthermore, the report delves into the challenges faced by Saharawi communities due to the Moroccan occupation, emphasising the importance of collaboration between organisations working with Western Sahara for future studies.
Information for Saharawis in the United Kingdom
Introduction
Your Status
Employment
Learn English
Refugee Agencies
Healthcare
Housing
Community Organizations
Introduction
The UK is ethnically diverse with a multicultural and multi-faith society. Some areas of the UK are more diverse than others, especially larger cities. The largest religion in the UK is Christianity, with 33.2 million people observing. The second largest religion is Islam, with 2.7 million people. Around a quarter of the UK population practice no religion.

The UK is a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary democracy. This means that the king is the head of state, but power rests in the democratically-elected parliament. The Prime Minister leads the government. The government is usually formed by the largest political party which is elected through free and fair elections.
Other Important Information
The currency in the UK is the Pound Sterling (£). £1 (one pound) = 100p (100 pennies, or pence).

To use public transport, you usually have to buy a ticket before traveling. For national trains or buses, tickets are usually much cheaper if bought in advance. You can find out more information on the National Rail website or Trainline.

If you have refugee or Humanitarian Protection status in the UK, it means that:
You may legally remain in the UK for five years from the date you are recognised as a refugee or in need of Humanitarian Protection
You can access public services e.g. healthcare and schools
You can apply to stay permanently in the UK (known as ‘indefinite leave to remain’) after five years
You may work
You may apply for social welfare benefits to support you to live and find work

If you have received asylum support from the Home Office, Migrant Help can provide advice about accessing benefits, housing, and other services before the end of the 28-day period when your asylum support will end. The Home Office will notify Migrant Help about the outcome of your asylum claim and Migrant Help will contact you within one working day. They will advise of the support they can provide and if you wish to receive their assistance, they will schedule a follow-up appointment.

Major industries in the UK include agriculture, production and services. Many jobs require you to work "normal working hours" from 9 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday. Your normal working hours will be fixed by your employment contract. For some jobs, you may be expected to work in the evenings, on weekends, or at night. The working age in the UK is mostly between 16-65 years old. From the age of 16, it is possible to start to work for a few hours alongside studies or take on an apprenticeship.
Important: You have the right to work as soon as you have been granted refugee or Humanitarian Protection status in the UK. However, you will not automatically be given a job.
Getting a Job
In order to work in the UK, you will need your National Insurance number. This is a unique set of letters and numbers for each person. It records the tax and National Insurance contributions you make, which pay for your healthcare and other public services. You cannot work or receive benefits without your NI number.

You will also usually need to provide a CV. A CV is a formal list of your qualifications and experience. Additionally, employers may ask for a cover letter. A cover letter is a short description that states why you are applying for the job and why you think you meet the requirements in the job description advertised.
To get help finding a job:

Look in local/national newspapers or recruitment websites where jobs are advertised. Eg, LinkedIn, w4mp, Guardian jobs, Indeed, Monster UK, Reed.co.uk

Visit your local Jobcentre Plus - the Jobcentre can help you find jobs or direct you to training to help you get a job
Register with a recruitment agency who can find jobs for you
Visit local companies’ websites to enquire about job vacancies
Charities that help refugees find employment

BREADWINNERS

Breadwinners offer employment specifically to young refugees and people seeking asylum through selling bread.

BREAKING BARRIERS

One-to-one employment advice and guidance, education and training.

JOBS FOR HUMANITY

Connects refugees, displaced individuals, and asylum seekers with welcoming employers across the world

JUST BREAD

Just Bread is a 12-week training programme for refugee women who want to connect with others and learn new baking skills as a possible route towards employment.

PATHWAYS TO WORK

Pathways to Work from Refugee Action provides an eight-week employability programme to help refugees learn skills and tips to get hired. One-on-one mentoring is also available 

REFUGEE EMPLOYABILITY PROGRAMME

Offers help with employment support, english language, integration support.

RISE

Provides free English lessons, help applying for jobs, fun events and social opportunities, help with benefits and housing, and work support for those in employment (Based all over London)
English Language Resources
English for Action: free classes for English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL)
ESOL Courses – Free English Lessons online (offers self-study materials and resources for different levels of proficiency, as well as English skills for work)
British Council ESOL Nexus – short YouTube videos to prepare you for everyday conversations and interactions
ESL Lab – improve your listening skills in English
Ello – improve your listening skills in English
Islington Centre for Refugees and Migrants – online English resources
Translation Services
Tarjimly – an award-winning non-profit organisation that offers translation and interpretation services
Refugee Agencies and Charities

LOCAL BRITISH RED CROSS

Provides location-specific contact information for relevant Red Cross branches

MIGRANT HELP

Exists to help refugees settle and rebuild their lives in the UK. Free asylum helpline at Migrant Help (open 24/7/365): 0808 8010 503. You can also contact Migrant Help via their webchat or online enquiry form

NOTRE DAME REFUGEE CENTRE

Offers a telephone advice service. Call 0207 440 2669 to book an appointment. Free immigration advice available in French or English. Immigration advice – Available Mondays 10:30 – 12:30 and Wednesdays & Fridays 10:30 – 13:30

REFUGEE ACTION

Working throughout the UK, RA offers information and advice to refugees on the asylum process

REFUGEE ADVICE PROJECT LONDON

Aids new refugees post-NASS support, offering guidance on immigration, welfare, housing, and health services by appointment.
Healthcare Services (including Mental Health)
In case of emergency (when there is a threat to life), call 999
ONLY CALL IN CASE OF EMERGENCY
NHS NON emergency number – 111
NHS Book a COVID test – 119
Dental Helpline for free an impartial advice – 01788 539780
Samaritans – Mental health services – call 116 123
Learn More
NHS emergency mental health support
Learn More
Housing Support (including Homelessness)

CRISIS

Provides resources to find temporary shelters and free food, helps people experiencing homelessness know their rights, and gives employment support. 
CONTACT: 0300 636 1967

NOTRE DAME REFUGEE CENTRE

Housing and Welfare Benefit Advice

Available Wednesdays 10:30 - 13:30
CONTACT: 0207 440 2669

STREETLINK LONDON

(For street homelessness specifically)
CONTACT: 0300 500 0914
Community Groups for Refugees in London

BREAKING BARRIERS

Provides advice and guidance, digital skills training and operations support

CHANGING LIVES FC

A football team made entirely up of refugees and asylum seekers

EUROPEAN NETWORK ON STATELESSNESS

ENS host monthly meetups for stateless activists, to network, share updates and support each other’s work and wellbeing

HOST NATION

Volunteer-led charity helping asylum seekers and refugees in London find local friends and build community

REAP

An independent refugee-led support charity in West London. Offers different opportunities eg; ‘Introduction to Community Interpreting,' and other workshops

WATERLOO COMMUNITY COUNSELLING

Provides sight-seeing trips, activities, and meetups for refugees and asylum seekers in London
RETURN TO HOMEPAGE
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Registered Charity (England and Wales) :1115288 | Companies House Registration number : 05397223
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