On Tuesday 20 June 2023, as part of World Refugee Day, we held our first ever leadership conference. The conference focused on the resettlement of refugees in Cornwall’s communities.
The day started with a welcome from the Leader of Cornwall Council, Councillor Linda Taylor. She spoke about migration and relating it to the rich history of migration from our very own Cornwall. She thanked our incredible Community for opening its hearts and homes.
Larry Bottinick, UNHCR Senior Legal Officer – he spoke about our legal responsibilities in dealing with the practical issues faced by refugees and asylum seekers and gave an overview of the current resettlement schemes used by the Home Office and the value of an integrated approach.
Barbara Ellenbroek, Cabinet Member for Children & Families shared and incredibly personal story to support the theme of rehumanising people fleeing persecution.
Serena Collins, strategic lead for resettlement, spoke of the importance of remembering that no one has just one story, that in all our lives we have many, that people are valued for the diversity and many stories that the bring to our communities.
Led by the resettlement Team and supported by the Refugee and Asylum seeker outreach team. In line with the theme of the nationwide Refugee Week, the name of the conference was ‘Compassion into Action.’ The conference brought together over 100 leaders and senior managers from across Cornwall’s public services and school system. Guests were also invited from local refugee support networks to explore ways of better helping refugees settle in Cornwall.
The Giant handmade flowers were supplied by Tiny Infinity, a hot new start up company in St Austell, comprising of a husband and wife from Ukraine. They had a business before the war in Ukraine and have been able to start up again in Cornwall. A must for any event as truly show stopping!
Ellie Baker, Trauma Informed Practice, learning from best practice spoke about the trauma laden journeys that children have faced before arriving in Cornwall, highlighting the importance of finding the moments to connect with children rather than seeing them as attention seeking. Reminding us that many children have minutes to pack into one bag all that they treasure and can carry on a scary journey into the unknown from a place shattered by war or fear.
Headteachers shared best practice and Sara Leudar, Team manager, Cornwall 16+ and Separated Children Seeking Asylum Service spoke of creating safe spaces for people to rest and begin the journey back to trust.
The day also showed some videos of refugees, sharing their poignant and thought-provoking stories.
An additional video was shared that was created by students at Cornwall College, students who are also unaccompanied children seeking asylum. Young people with hopes and aspirations, of becoming doctors, restauranteurs, mums and dads themselves. Young people trying their best to thrive, and all whilst missing their mothers and fathers. Incredibly humbling.
It was a day steeped in positivity, emotion, creativity and hope for next steps in supporting refugees.
Thank you to all who supported and attended the day.