Manchester Refugee Support Network

Manchester Refugee Support Newtwork (MRSN) is a grassroots organisation directly managed by refugee communities, based in Manchester. MRSN aims to build strong independent refugee community organisations, develop the skills of community leaders and give people the information they need to settle and build new lives.

Year(s): Established 1995

Target group(s): Refugees, Asylum Seekers, Migrants



•To support and empower Greater Manchester’s refugee communities to establish and maintain strong organisations •To build a strong and vibrant network of refugee community organisations •To empower and enable individual refugees and asylum-seekers to fulfill their potential and continue to make positive contributions to society •To ensure refugees and asylum-seekers understand, and are able to exercise, their rights •To ensure refugees and asylum-seekers understand their responsibilities as active citizens •To reduce levels of stress, unemployment, poverty and isolation for refugees and asylum-seekers •To support refugees and asylum-seekers to access services and opportunities on an equal basis •To give refugees and asylum-seekers a voice and to empower them to represent the needs and aspirations of their communities •To improve public awareness of refugee and asylum issues and to increase positive media representation

Type of product

Refugee and Asylum Advice Services Community Development Projects NewsletterREsources Refugee Awareness Training Refugee and Migrant Forum Refugee Health and wellbeing Destitute Project Volunteering Project

Brief description of the product / outcome / method

Refugee and Asylum Advice Services Provides information and advice on a range of issues including: •Welfare Benefits •Housing •Homelessness support •Employment support •Access to health and welfare services •Access to education and training •Asylum support •Asylum process •Claiming asylum •Immigration advice •Referral and signposting to other services Drop-in clinics provide ssistance with: •Refugee travel documents (for those with refugee status only) •Naturalisation as British Citizen (adult) •Registration as British Citizen (child) •Lost BRP card •EEA residence cards for EEA national and their family members (not permanent residency) •NLT and TOC (bio-metric residence card for those with visa in passport of paper document) •Leave in line application (for a child of a refugee born after parent is granted Community Development Projects Community development project works with refugee communities to help them organise and work together to improve the quality of community life. We believe that it is important for policy and decision-makers to listen to refugee communities in UK. We work with groups to help them develop a collective voice, and take action to meet the needs of their wider communities. Their work in this area also boosts cohesion and cooperation between and among Manchester’s rich and diverse communities. MRSN work alongside local development workers and other capacity building agencies to achieve this. They also work to influence policy and strategy in this area alongside other partners. They work with over 40 refugee organisations in Greater Manchester. Newsletter MRSN publish a bi-monthly newsletter on issues affecting asylum seekers and refugees including funding news, job opportunities, events, training and volunteering opportunities as well as project news of our organisation. Resources MRSN provide meeting room space and access to IT resources for Refugee Community Organisations. Community Development Refugee Awareness Training Refugee and Migrant Forum Refugee Health and wellbeing Destitute Project Volunteering Project

Impact on target groups / Transferability potential

Over the last two decades, MRSN has brought together often isolated and vulnerable refugees and helped them to form their own organisations to find strength and support in each other; nurtured fledgling RCOs to enable them to flourish and provide services and activities for their own community members; and empowered individual refugees to become confident, skilled and knowledgeable citizens who have developed and led their own community organisations, and settled and established themselves and their families in Greater Manchester, thereby contributing their hard work and talents to the local economy. MRSN set up the Refugee & Migrant’s Forum in 2003 and established the Community Leadership programme delivered in partnership with Manchester Metropolitan University. The first set of community leaders conducted research to support the development of a set of principles, objectives and priorities which became the Refugee Charter for Manchester, successfully launched in 2006 at Manchester Town Hall in front of an audience of 800 people. These priorities have been reviewed and refreshed over the years but still form the backbone of what the network wishes to achieve in order to improve the lives of all refugees across Greater Manchester. Our community development work has been funded by Manchester City Council for the last 20 years, and is seen to have a continuing role to play in building community resilience amongst refugee communities across the city. As part of our community development programme, MRSN also provides a focus for celebrating the contributions refugees make to the UK by helping to organise and promote cross-cultural arts and sports activities each year during Refugee Week. This enables us to work in partnership with a variety of other organisations, producing and promoting a wide range of creative activities which raise public awareness of and appreciation for the experiences, skills and abilities of refugees, and provides a platform for refugees to showcase their talents. We launched the Refugee Cultural Festival in 1997 and held the first Refugee World Cup in 2000 to welcome the Kosovar community to Manchester. This has become a highly anticipated annual event and has grown from 4 teams to 20 teams taking part each year; from 40 to 200 participants; from teams segregated along country of origin lines to fully integrated teams. Our longest-standing direct service is our Refugee Advice Service, first developed in 1997 as a result of demand from our members, who were struggling to cope with the needs of their individual community members who were facing impacts from immigration and asylum support legislation, as well as homelessness, poverty, discrimination and high levels of unemployment. RCOs did not have the capabilities required to effectively deliver social welfare advice services to these vulnerable individuals, leading MRSN to raise funds for and develop its own free, impartial and accessible advice service specifically targeted at refugees and those seeking asylum.

Promoter of the initiative

Name of organization / individual: Manchester Refugee Support Network

Country: United Kingdom



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