Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities
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Support continues for Hong Kongers building new lives in the UK

Hong Kong British National (Overseas) (BN(O)) status holders building new lives in the UK will continue to receive vital support after the government recently (23 July 2022) confirmed the next phase of the Welcome Programme.

  • Over 40 national and regional organisations to share £3 million to deliver projects
  • £3.6 million more for Welcome Hubs across the UK
  • Continued cash for English language in England

The recent package will help individuals and their families on the BN(O) visa to come and settle in the UK. Since its launch at the start of 2021, over 123,000 eligible Hong Kongers and their family members have chosen to take up this offer and applied for the BN(O) visa.

The Welcome Programme will continue to provide:

  • a further £3 million for over 40 voluntary, community, and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations to deliver their national and regional projects across mental health, social integration, employability and tackling hate crime
  • £3.6 million more to continue the network of 12 Welcome Hubs across the UK which support people to get to know and connect with services in their local area
  • further support for English language classes, and destitution support for those who need it (England only)
  • and updates to the Welcome pack on GOV.UK, available in English and Cantonese

Levelling Up Secretary Greg Clark recently said:

We have strong ties with the people of Hong Kong and we want those who have chosen to build a home here to be supported to settle successfully.

I’m pleased that our new neighbours will continue to benefit from the expert support of councils, dedicated welcome hubs and fantastic grassroots projects thanks to this funding.

Since February, VCSE organisations have been providing much needed support across the country, making a huge difference to people’s lives, including:

  • help for parents and carers who want to know which schools to send their children to and how to connect with other parents
  • help to get into work – across the UK, there have been seminars, one to one coaching sessions and entrepreneur networking events to boost skills, confidence and provide interview practice to help people get jobs that match their experience
  • a dedicated mental health helpline to support young people and adults who may be struggling to start over in a new country
  • a range of events and activities to integrate BN(O)s, including art classes, visits to museums, and organised walks around cities, with opportunities for communities to learn about Hong Kong culture through Dragon Boat festivals and Lunar New Year celebrations

One such project is FaithAction, which runs a Café Connect space in Solihull for arrivals from Hong Kong to meet others in the community, and direct them to local support and advice.

One arrival said: “Café Connect is a very good place for me because I want to know about English history and culture. I want to be part of life here. It’s good that I can speak to English people as my understanding improves and one day I will speak to everyone like they do.”

Wai Yin Society, based in Manchester, helped Ms L who arrived in the UK from Hong Kong in 2021 with her husband and daughter and was feeling disorientated and socially isolated. They helped her to get a job as a lunch time assistant at a local school and are now supporting her to complete a food hygiene course to help build on her existing skills.  

Ms L recently said:

“I am happy that Wai Yin gave me advice and support.”  

One individual accessing support from Hongkongers in Britain through their CV writing clinic said: “ It was very helpful since the speaker told me about the job seeking culture in the UK that I didn’t know before. I could understand more because the speaker spoke in Cantonese, and also understood what a Hong Konger might be concerned about when finding a job. It is not only about polishing a CV, but also helping me gain more confidence to get a job.”

The recent announcements means that organisations can extend their support to reach more individuals and provide tailored services to meet their needs.

The Welcome Programme is also providing funding to create a reporting and support service for Hong Kongers and all other East and Southeast Asian communities in the UK who experience racism or any forms of hate. ‘On Your Side’, led by Protection Approaches alongside a consortium of community organisations, will be launching soon.

The Welcome Hubs across the UK will continue to provide practical advice and support in English and Cantonese through their websites, one to one sessions and local support networks.

Councils across England, which are already playing a key role to ensure BN(O) status holders are warmly welcomed and supported, will continue to provide targeted English language and destitution support where the help is needed.

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