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Are refugees getting enough help with cultural integration in the UK?

By Elizaveta Shchigireva Feb 10, 2023
Photo: Unsplash/ Alexas_Fotos

A recent Channel 4 report about how Ukrainian refugees are handling cultural integration in ethnically diverse areas of the UK sparked a lot of debate.

One of the interviewees made racist and Islamophobic comments which went viral on the Internet.

There was a strong opinion in the comment sections that the UK government is not doing enough to help refugees integrate into multicultural British society.

Among the comments on Twitter was the view that “Immigration has always been tough for everyone”.

So what help is on offer for refugees trying to settle into British society, where
their experiences may be very different from their home countries?

Alina Kukoba, who came to the UK from Ukraine in May 2022, said: “The government website has some information of what to do on arrival but it is not enough. I had to research a lot of steps myself.

“It would be great if refugees received a letter on arrival with instructions about everything we need to do such as how to make a UK bank account etc.”

Kingston Council offers a welcome pack with information about services and support for people who are part of resettlement programmes.

A recent survey of Ukrainian refugees staying in Kingston showed that the majority found the Council’s integration activities in the borough exceeded their expectations.

Thomas Marsh, who works with refugees said: “In my opinion, certain individuals might take longer than others to adapt. Factors such as the ability to speak the language of the host country and their prior cultural background play a vital role in cultural integration.

“I will be optimistic enough to say that with the right support and good people around, cultural integration is possible for everyone.”

Kukoba described London as a great city to live in: “There are a lot of opportunities here. People are very kind and friendly. I am very grateful that UK government offered me a chance to get on with my life safely and acquire experience that I can use to help my country recover after war is over.”

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