Breaking Down Barriers
The Refugee Café, set up in 2019, creates a platform for refugees to make and share food and art from around the world whilst creating a path to employment for people granted asylum in Lewisham. By involving people in social activism on the ground level, they can impact the way people engage, consume and interact on a day-to-day basis.
In leaving their homes, refugees face some of the hardest challenges imaginable. Once in the UK, they continue to face many barriers to work and life in the UK including lack of language skills, social networks, UK work experience and discrimination.
The mission of the refugee cafe is to break down the many barriers that refugees face and create opportunity, employability and community for those granted asylum in London.
Why It Matters
There around 130,000 refugees in the UK, many of them children. After being forcibly displaced from their homes and making long and treacherous journeys, they will have to face an arduous asylum process in order to gain refugee status (that is often denied and overturned on appeal). Only once this process is complete can they begin to seek employment, but this is a whole new challenge in itself.
Without the language skills and connections, finding legitimate work is often impossible. Because of this, a refugee is four times more likely to be unemployed than the general population and five times more likely to experience mental health issues.
Unable to find work, many turn to illegitimate jobs where they face low wages and exploitation. This makes refugees some of the more vulnerable people in London.
The Refugee Café gives refugees a chance to share their food, art and culture whilst giving them opportunities to train and nurture long-term employment and enterprise goals, helping to pull them out of the dire situation they may face.