Agenda item

Migration Service Update

The report of the Head of Locality Partnerships introduces a verbal update that will be provided by the Migration Programme Manager on the work Migration Services are doing and with partners from the voluntary and community sector.



The Chair invited Karen Pierce, Director at Positive Action for Refugees and Asylum Seekers (PAFRAS) to provide the Committee with an introduction to PAFRAS and the challenges the team face. Karen highlighted the following information:

·  Asylum support and the £40 per week cash allowance.

·  Refused support forcing people into homelessness, and most people PAFRAS work with, are homeless.

·  There is a weekly drop-in service at Harehills, for food parcels donated by local community groups and for people to seek advice and support.

·  PAFRAS offer more general support such as ESOL classes and have colleagues supporting mental health and referrals as well as domestic abuse.

·  The service provides food vouchers and destitution payments.

·  There are 60 volunteers at PAFRAS, most of which have lived experience and offer a range of projects for mental health case work, young migrants, and family reunions.

·  There are clear challenges with capacity on the service, and funding. People are turned away at drop-ins, and PAFRAS are on-going with trying to secure sustainable funding.

·  The Leeds Welcome Hub is being set up at the Reginald Centre on Chapeltown Road, linked to the Leeds Ukrainian Community Centre.

·  The impact on people’s rights in terms of the Nationality and Borders Bill.


Responding to questions from Members’, Karen confirmed the following:

·  People waiting for immigration status, can be waiting a long time. There are no set targets for claims.

·  People are typically provided with the wrong information in terms of receiving public funds for public healthcare. If people are refused, they can receive a HC2 certificate through the NHS Low Income Scheme. PAFRAS will help people understand their rights.

·  Elected Members are encouraged to use social media platforms by sharing and liking the work of PAFRAS and making people aware of their work.


A Member discussed the disparities of the Ukraine crisis in comparison to existing and new asylum seekers and is keen to understand how they are put into the same category.


The Chair suggested that a workshop be formed with various organisations to create more awareness of where people can seek help and be referred to the right place. The Chair invited PAFRAS along to attend.


Pria Bhabra, Migration Manager and Samantha Powell, Third Sector and Migration Partnership Manager introduced the item. The Committee were provided with a PowerPoint presentation that highlighted the following information:

·  Reasons for migration – economic, social, political, and environmental.

·  Census 2011 data and trends – under 20% of people from BME backgrounds, 1 in 10 people in Leeds not born in UK, which has doubled since 2001.

·  National Insurance 2011 – 2020 data and trends and top nationalities to Leeds as of September 2020 include Romania, Poland, India, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Lithuania, China, Pakistan, Nigeria. It was confirmed that this information did not include Asylum data, adult independents and children and only gave a snapshot of data and trends.

·  An overview of the strategic coordinated and inclusive approach to migration in Leeds 2021 – 2025.

·  Cross cutting challenges include lack of understanding of rights, challenges accessing services and systems, barriers of language and effective communications, leading to a lack of information and knowledge to make an informed choice, reduced voice and influence.

·  Priorities and outcomes to improve access to services, change attitudes and behaviours, increase awareness and understanding, strengthen resilience and building capacity and strong partnership approaches.

·  The Leeds ESOL Strategy and the work with stakeholders to improve language in Leeds.

·  Governance and partnership working arrangements.

·  Key priorities and the types of work the team deliver against.

·  A citywide Covid-19 recovery response that worked on making information accessible, developed leaflets and a cultural food hub, door knocking, creation of videos and developed a Covid-19 Community Champion Programme.

·  An overview of the health entitlements for all migrants.

·  The Council are looking to adopt the same approach used for the Afghan citizens resettlement scheme for the Ukraine Crisis and developing a local Welcome Pack. The Council are working with the Ukrainian Association to look at various processes and guidance. The Leeds Together For Ukraine appeal remains open, and the Council are looking at developing a grants programme in liaison with Leeds Community Foundation. An email address for local enquiries has been set up:


Members discussed the following key matters:

·  Clarity on the healthcare levy and a request that a streamlined document is created to explain charges.

·  It was acknowledged that there has been a language shift, and it may be more beneficial to have younger speakers at the Ukrainian Centre. It was noted that there are simple things residents can do in the community, an example being the Mill Hill Conversation Café.

·  Issues were identified in terms of placing people in bridging hotels, and the need to do more around language barriers. It was emphasised that there is more to do around utilising qualified people coming into Leeds, such as Doctors and Nurses.

·  Concerns regarding the disparities across different backgrounds, and the need to provide good quality Private Rented Sector and Council housing for all migrants.


The Chair thanked everyone in attendance and reiterated the need to bring together organisations to join-up work and services. It was confirmed that the Localities Team and Migration Services will work together to form a workshop.



a)  To note the contents of the verbal updated provided on behalf of the Director of PAFRAS and challenges it faces.

b)  To note the update and presentation provided by Migration Services and comments during discussion of this item.

c)  To request that a workshop be formed in conjunction with Migration Services and the Localities Team.



Supporting documents: