UK asylum reforms have come under fierce scrutiny from the British public time and again, but ultimately, the success of refugee settlement and integration in the UK depends not just on national policy, but also on the local communities. So, how can policymakers and advocates increase public buy-in and support from citizens and communities when it comes to UK refugee and asylum-seeking policies? And, what does a system look like based on an intake capacity and integration tactics that align with the needs of UK communities whilst meeting our international obligations?
In this webinar, we’ll be exploring how we can build a UK asylum system that can rely on the confidence and consent of the British public. Specifically, we’ll be looking at what role communities can play in supporting refugee integration.
This panel discussion will bring together key academics, politicians and community representatives to delve into these key issues. It will be the third episode of our ‘Voices from a Broken System: Rethinking refugee integration in the UK’ in partnership with the Woolf Institute and the Commission on the Integration of Refugees.
Ritula Shah – Ritula Shah is an award winning journalist and broadcaster. She is the presenter of ‘Calm Classics’ every weekday evening on ClassicFM. Ritula left the BBC in April 2023, after a career spanning almost 35 years. For the past 15 years, she was the main presenter of the World Tonight, Radio 4’s evening news programme, which has a focus on international affairs and domestic politics. She’s presented the programme from countries including Brazil, Jordan, India, China, the US, Guantanamo Bay, Finland and Germany. She was also the lead presenter of The Real Story, a weekly current affairs discussion programme on the BBC World Service. Ritula chairs events for businesses, universities and think tanks on everything from current affairs to philosophy. She is a trustee of the visual arts organisation INIVA and an ambassador for the British Asian Trust.
On the panel:
Stephen Kinnock – Stephen is the Labour MP for Aberavon, and has been an MP continuously since 7 May 2015. He currently undertakes the role of Shadow Minister (Home Office) (Immigration). Stephen has in-depth experience of business and of working internationally, having spent over twenty years working in the private sector. He has have lived and worked in Brussels, Russia, Sierra Leone and Switzerland and speaks five languages fluently.
Prof. Jenny Phillimore – Jenny is Professor of Migration and Superdiversity at the University of Birmingham and a leading scholar in refugee integration, sexual and gender based violence (SGBV) and forced migration, superdiversity and access to social welfare with a particular focus on public health. Jenny is also an expert on Community Sponsorship. She manages teams of researchers focusing on access to SGBV, health, education, employment, training, and housing integration with a particular focus on integration and organisational change in the UK and EU.
Tony Smith – Tony is a global expert in immigration, border management and security. He retired as Director General of the UK Border Force in 2013, after completing over 40 years’ service in the UK Home Office, serving at all at all levels ranging from Executive Officer to Director General. He has the unique distinction of having served as Director of Ports and Borders in 2 different countries – Citizenship and Immigration Canada and the UK Immigration Service/UK Border Agency. He was the Regional Director for London and the Southeast in UKBA covering all aspects of immigration, asylum, and enforcement before becoming SRO/Gold Commander for the London 2012 Olympics – a role for which he was awarded the CBE for his services to border security. He is now a global border management consultant, Managing Director of Fortinus Global Ltd, and chairman of the International Border Management and Technologies Association (IBMATA).
Sabir Zazai – Sabir Zazai is Chief Executive at Scottish Refugee Council and was previously CEO of Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre. He arrived in the UK from Afghanistan in 1999, and his work draws from his own experiences and expertise in community integration and cohesion and refugee rights. Sabir graduated from Coventry University with a Masters in Community Cohesion Management and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Glasgow and the Lord Provost award for human rights. He is Honorary President of City of Sanctuary and a Visiting Practice Fellow at the Centre for Trust Peace and Social Relations at Coventry University. Sabir currently chairs the Asylum Reform Initiative, and Together with Refugees movement. In 2022, he was awarded Fellowship of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and also received an OBE.