The Restart Refugee Support initiative launched in the UK in 2017 as a direct response to the increasing displacement of people worldwide and the growing need for rapid and effective (economic) integration in countries of resettlement. The programme is a division of the Barry Family Foundation, and is also primarily funded by it.
Refugees face significant barriers to entering the labour market in their host countries. These barriers prevent people from finding work which matches their abilities and aspirations: despite having transferable skills refugees remain unemployed or underemployed years after they have arrived. Restart’s main activity is loan-making for the purpose of labour market integration; we have however, helped hundreds of individuals with employment advice, business planning and signposting. Through our financial support we have enabled our clients to sit re-qualification exams, take training courses, start small businesses, access expert advice and secure work experience.
We believe that being a refugee is not a perpetual state of victimhood or want. It is a difficult period in one's life that is overcome by creating an enabling environment and opportunities for refugees to start again. We are in the business of identifying and utilising situations that benefit both refugees and their host countries. For newcomers one of the most pressing needs is the need to be self-sufficient. A significant proportion of refugees resettled in the UK have transferable skills and experience in various professions and trades, which coupled with resilience and creativity can create a positive gain for their host communities.
Our service is focused on facilitating refugees’ own efforts in becoming self-reliant by providing interest-free loans for activities which lead to durable economic integration. Loans, bundled with mentorship and advice where necessary, are offered to individuals for the purposes of labour market integration or business start-up.
We pride ourselves in having a sustainable model of financial assistance resulting from the recyclability of repayments. Our flexibility and personalised approach to (in house) loan management has to date given a nil loan delinquency rate. We are committed to not replicating services that are in existence but rather to work closely with partner organisations to ensure smooth and ‘holistic’ service provision. It is important not to confuse a Restart loan with other financial instruments such as microfinance even though the basic mechanism of both schemes is similar.