Barka UK Voluntary Reconnections
Barka UK Voluntary Reconnections project provides assisted return for Central and Eastern European (CEE) migrants to their country of origin. The project aims to ensure humane reconnection and reintegration of vulnerable migrants who are unable or unwilling to remain in the UK and wish to return voluntarily to their countries of origin, but lack the resources to do so.
Since June 2007, Barka UK has helped to return voluntarily to the countries of origin, over 3000 migrants from Central and Eastern Europe.
How it works
Our outreach teams have the necessary language and cultural skills to communicate with the CEE rough sleepers and firsthand experience of life on the streets.
Barka UK owes much of its success to employing ex-service users and its close links to the network of homelessness services that we have built within CEE countries, which ensure that those who return home are placed within a supportive environment to prevent a return to the streets.
Barka UK Reconnection teams each consist of two front-line staff members working together: a ‘Leader’ (a former service user), and an ‘Assistant’ holding a degree in social work, psychology or rehabilitation.
Barka’s ’Leaders’ have been through the rehabilitation process themselves and therefore are well placed to understand, empathise and create a unique and trusting relationship with CEE rough sleepers. ‘Leaders’ are recruited from ex-rough sleepers who once lived on the street. After a rehabilitation and integration process, they are given the opportunity to go through a training programme to become Barka ‘leaders’ and in turn to work with the CEE street population in London, Holland, Ireland, and Belgium.
Where we work
Currently, Barka UK Reconnection Project operates in eight London boroughs:
In the UK:
Assistance with obtaining travel documents
Profiling of migrants
Dissemination of information to migrant communities
Individualized advice on return and reintegration assistance
Specialized assistance and referral services for vulnerable individuals
Arrangement of escorts, if required
Assistance with travel
Assistance with escort in transit, if required
In countries of origin:
Post-arrival reception arrangements, including information and referral to local partners if necessary
Short- and/or medium-term reintegration assistance, including alcohol and drug rehabilitation, vocational training, education programmes, medical assistance and other tailor-made assistance according to the special needs;
OUR PROJECT MODEL IS A SUCCESS
Barka UK’s Reconnection model as a social franchise has been successfully duplicated and adapted to tackle homelessness among CEE migrant groups in Holland, Ireland, Germany and Belgium. The model of a leader-assistant team is gaining prominence in Poland as well. Barka UK provided training to its partner in Poland, the Social Integration Centre in Zielona Gora, within the project ‘From Homelessness to Stability’ funded by European Social Fund. The partnership will allow those migrants, who originally come from that part of Poland to be offered an option of joining the Social Integration Centre in Zielona Gora on their return.