Barnardo’s is to offer new training for its frontline staff to help them better identify refugees fleeing oppression and discrimination due to their sexuality.
The UK’s leading children’s charity announced the training initiative at the start of LGBT History Month which this year focuses on the theme of Geography – Mapping the World.
Government figures estimate 5-7% of the population identifies as LGBT. With around 169,000 refugees and asylum seekers living in the UK, approximately 12,000 may identify as such.
Many have fled their country of origin for fear of persecution due to their sexuality. Around the world, LGBT people are subjected to abuse, discrimination and violence.
In 72 countries, it is illegal to engage in same sex sexual activity and in Iran, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and parts of Somalia and Nigeria, homosexuality is punishable by death.
Barnardo’s frontline services work with refugee and asylum seeking children, young people and families and the training sessions offered will highlight to staff the plight, challenges and issues faced by those identifying as LGBT.
The training, based around research and data published by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and Stonewall, includes summaries of relevant legislation and policy, an overview of the asylum process, details of the challenges and issues faced by LGBT refugees and asylum seekers in the UK and support services on offer. It will be available to staff on request.
Barnardo’s Chief Executive Javed Khan, said: “LGBT refugees and asylum seekers can feel isolated and alone when they flee to the UK, often after being rejected by their families and friends. To make matters worse, many also fear rejection by, and prejudice from, members of their own community here in the UK.
“This training programme will help frontline staff develop a clearer understanding of the issues so they can work with young people and communities to improve support for refugees and asylum seekers who identify as LGBT.”
Barnardo’s works hard to create a workforce that is inclusive of LGBT staff and volunteers and to both understand and respond to the needs of LGBTQ young people. More than 400 people have signed up to its allies programme and its Safezone training has made Barnardo’s offices and services welcoming places for LGBT people.
The charity operates a variety of services and projects supporting LGBT young people. These include an anti-bullying programme, youth groups, training for health professionals and school staff and awareness workshops for organisations and community groups.