The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) has announced that the Hong Kong BN(O) Welcome Programme has been renewed for a 3rd Year of funding. This includes funding for:
- Continuing funding for the network of 12 Welcome Hubs across the UK, helping BN(O)s understand and connect to services in their local area.
- Further funding for On Your Side, the reporting and support service for BN(O)s and all other East and Southeast Asian communities in the UK who experience or witness racism or any other form of hate.
- Further funding for English language classes, and destitution (homelessness) support if needed, provided through local authorities in England.
- Continuing to update our dedicated GOV.UK page, including our Welcome Pack, available in English and Cantonese.
Also included is a new funding competition for national and regional VCSE grants. More information on the grants and how to apply can be found here Hong Kong British National (Overseas) Programme: Year 3 VCSE Funding (2023/2024) – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
As part of the application DLUHC is looking for proposals to align with regional priorities set out by us, the Regional Strategic Migration Partnerships (RSMP).
The Department is arranging a number of information sessions on the grants process. The North West Strategic Migration Partnership will arrange a virtual information session on our regional priorities on Friday 17th March you can register for the session here Link to Register for RSMP Information Session
Explanation of our regional priorities are below:
Develop English Language skills for employment – Access to English language support remains one of the key issues in the North West and English language remains a major barrier to employment for Hong Kong BN(O) visa holders. The expansion of English language provision, particularly provision which improves access to Employment, is a key priority for the North West.
Access to employment – Due to BN(O) visa holders No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF) conditions on their visa, finding good employment is critical for many BN(O) families. NRPF also means access to mainstream employment support isn’t possible. The employment market in Hong Kong is very different to the UK, and the North West has a different employment market to much of the rest of the UK. The provision of high quality, structured and proven employment support is one of the greatest needs for BN(O) visa holders in the North West. Provision can be expanding existing services to allow BN(O) visa holders access or it can be developing a bespoke service for Hongkongers. Provision should cover key aspects of employment in the UK including searching and applying for jobs, how to write CV’s as well as online applications, and interview skills.
Access to housing – Due to their NRPF conditions BN(O) visa holders can not access housing benefit. Many BN(O) visa holders may have chosen to buy property, however many are still reliant on the Private Rented Sector. Access to advice and information on their rights as renters is a key requirement for many BN(O) households. Impartial information and advice on finding affordable properties is becoming increasingly necessary. If a BN(O) household is at imminent risk of destitution, they can apply to have their NRPF conditions lifted and receive support from their local authority funded by the Welcome Programme. VCSE organisations are needed to support BN(O) households with accessing this support and applying for a change of conditions where necessary.
Access to Mental Health Services – Many Hongkongers have arrived in the UK under traumatic circumstances, having felt forced from their home country and trying to build a new life in the North West. Organisations being on hand to offer mental health support, wellbeing sessions and, where necessary, referring to qualified mental health professionals is a regional priority.
Integrate into their Local Communities – Tens of thousands of Hongkongers have settled in the North West with more likely to arrive in coming months and years. In addition Hongkongers have moved within the North West to create new communities across the region. It is important that as Hongkongers create vibrant communities across the North West that they do not become isolated and are supported to integrate into the communities in which they settle. Supporting BN(O) visa holders to integrate and socialise with existing communities in their area, including existing migrant communities, is an important priority for the RSMP. Ensuring BN(O) communities can access services, help and advice, healthcare, schools and community groups in their areas is integral to successful integration.
Supporting sub-groups (including the elderly and youth) – BN(O) visa holders in the North West are not one homogeneous group, instead they will have varying support needs. There will be Hongkongers who have moved to the North West that may face additional barriers to integration or accessing support. Specific projects targeting these under-represented groups is a key priority. These groups could include:
- The elderly
- Children & Young People
- People with Disabilities
Sub-regional focus areas:
Greater Manchester – we are aware of large BN(O) populations in Manchester, Trafford and Salford. There are smaller communities across other boroughs in the city-region.
Cheshire – we are aware of large BN(O) populations in Warrington and Cheshire West & Chester
Liverpool City Region – we are aware of BN(O) populations in Wirral and Liverpool, however more work is needed to identify other Hongkonger communities in the region.
Lancashire – we are aware of sporadic numbers of BN(O) visa holders across the county but work is needed to identify communities in Lancashire and to understand their needs.
Cumbria – we are not aware of significant numbers of BN(O) visa holders in Cumbria but would welcome information on any communities that do exist.
You can contact us to discuss these priorities by email [email protected]
You can download the powerpoint that was delivered at the RSMP information session below