Better outcomes for refugees

The genesis of the Integration Star

In a follow-up to our webinar introducing the Integration Star, research analyst Dr Anna Good tells the story of how the new Star for refugees came into being.

Help for refugees to integrate into this country has long been under-resourced and patchy. Specialist refugee organisations are doing brilliant work, but many other services struggle to work out how best to support refugees. And until recently, there’s been little in the way of solid outcomes data that can help shape service delivery.

It’s this context that spurred the creation of the Integration Star – a tool for services working with refugees that enables both better conversations and better outcomes.

The new Star has come out of an exciting and timely meeting of minds. For some years, Triangle had been interested in developing a Star for refugees. “It was on our radar, and several refugee organisations had said it would be great to have an Outcomes Star,” says Triangle director Sara Burns. “I could see it could really work. But because refugee support services tend to be small organisations and quite poorly funded, there was never the support necessary for the collaboration.”

“So I was delighted when in 2018 the Refugee Council approached us and said they wanted to collaborate on a Star. They’d just received a tranche of European funding for a refugee integration programme, and as part of that they had undertaken a commitment to collaboratively create a tool for refugee integration.”

The wider integration and employment programme, New Roots, was led by the Refugee Council in partnership with organisations in Yorkshire and Humberside, and has supported some 2700 refugees, often with complex and multiple needs. In our recent webinar, Better Conversations, Better Outcomes, Refugee Council head of integration Andrew Lawton explains that this programme gave the organisation an excellent opportunity ”to consider how we assessed the impact of our services, not just for the Refugee Council but also for its clients and for others working in the same space”.

“We had often felt that there was more we as an organisation could do to demonstrate a consistent way of measuring an individual’s progression as a result of our support,” he says.

At the time, the Home Office was working on a new framework to support its integration strategy, Indicators of Integration. However, that didn’t include a practical tool for service delivery organisations to measure outcomes. So the participants in the New Roots programme decided to collaborate on a tool that could work for people providing help on the ground, aligned with the Home Office Indicators of Integration.

“We wanted to work towards a set of outcomes that could be used across a range of front line services and that could be shared with other services doing similar work,” says Andrew Lawton.

The Refugee Council was already aware of the Outcomes Stars and approached Triangle about a new Star for refugees. And so the collaboration – between Triangle, the Refugee Council, four New Roots partners and ten refugee community organisations – was born.

These organisations formed the expert committee that helped develop the outcome areas and Journey of Change for the Integration Star. As research analyst at Triangle, I carried out an initial literature review around important outcome areas for working with refugees and mapped these onto the domains in the Home Office’s framework. This research was used to inform Triangle’s tried and tested iterative process of working closely with managers, practitioners and service users to draft and refine the new version of the Star.

“The result? ‘An evaluation tool that places the beneficiary at the centre of their own journey.’”

Andrew Lawton

Throughout the process we were careful to make sure that new Star could work both for refugees arriving through a government resettlement programme and for those who enter the asylum process after arrival. While resettlement refugees receive a package of support that starts with meeting them at the airports and encompasses finding accommodation and providing day-to-day integration casework, the same specialist support doesn’t exist for other refugees. “It’s left to refugee support organisations and the wider voluntary sector to intervene depending on capacity, funding and services they have available,” says Andrew Lawton.

The result of the collaboration? In Andrew Lawton’s words, “an evaluation tool that places the beneficiary at the centre of their own journey, providing them with a tool that is visual, that helps them recognise their own achievements, and really track their own progress with the support of an adviser”.

Following extensive testing and revision, the final version of the Integration Star was published in autumn last year.

“It was a long time coming,” says Sara Burns. “But we’re delighted it happened – it’s a really important tool for the refugee sector.”

Collaborators in developing the Integration Star 
The Refugee Council
RETAS (Refugee Education Training Advice Service), Leeds
PATH Yorkshire
Humber Community Advice Services (H-CAS)
Goodwin Development Trust.

10 community refugee organisations
Leeds Refugee Forum, Refugee Action Kingston, Iranian Association, Diversity Living Services, Bahar Women’s Association, Action for Community Development, West Yorkshire Somali Association, DAMASQ, Stepping Stone 4 and Leeds Swahili Community.

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The Integration Star was published at the end of 2020. A separate version, for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, the Planning Star, was published in July 2020. Both Stars are available to all organisations with a Star licence and training is available for workers and managers. Contact us for more information on info@triangleconsulting.co.uk or +44 (0) 207 272 8765.

Planning Star helps provide sensitive support for young asylum seekers

Photograph of Marie Buss

There was a sharp rise in the number of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children arriving in the UK last year, and children’s services are increasingly having to gear up to support them. It’s not easy – but the new Planning Star for young asylum seekers is ideally suited to the task, explains Triangle implementation manager Marie Buss

In August last year Kent County Council announced that it was no longer able to accept unaccompanied asylum-seeking children into its care – it had simply run out of capacity. The numbers of children, mainly teenagers, arriving on our shores without the care or protection of parents, had escalated, and local authorities in the South East were finding it hard to cope.

“Staff who aren’t used to supporting young asylum seekers need to be ready to meet their complex needs”

The Government’s National Transfer Scheme for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children is now under review to prevent the same thing happening again, and responsibility for these children is likely to be shared more equally around the UK. If that happens, staff who aren’t used to supporting vulnerable young asylum seekers need to be ready to meet their complex needs.

That’s where the Planning Star will really help. Designed in collaboration with the South East Strategic Partnership for Migration and the specialist charity Pathways to Independence, the Planning Star is specifically designed to support these young asylum seekers. It recognises that they arrive in this country without their parents, having undergone terrible experiences, and they can’t be expected to trust people, settle or integrate when they don’t even have a decision that they’re allowed to stay here.

Importantly, it takes into account that these children are traumatised, and it doesn’t push staff into trying to do support plans that may prove unrealistic. It shapes a conversation that covers the right areas and is sensitive to that child’s experience. And it’s very visual, which is crucial for children struggling with learning a new language on top of everything else.

“The Star is very forgiving and it’s very trauma-informed.”

So I think it will be incredibly useful for local authorities, children’s charities and residential services to have the Planning Star in their back pocket. As an implementation manager for Triangle, I’ve done some training with services where they were using the Young Person’s Star (for looked-after children) with everyone, including unaccompanied young asylum-seekers. I’ve shown them the Planning Star and trained them in the difference. And the response has been “thank goodness!”, because the Planning Star recognises that asylum-seeking children are on a totally different journey, and have very little control over their lives.

The Star is very forgiving and it’s very trauma-informed. It accepts that children and young people may be starting with a feeling of “I don’t know anyone, I can’t speak the language, I don’t know anything, I don’t trust any of those adults” – and that’s perfectly normal. Young asylum seekers need time and a lot of help to get to the point where they feel ready to talk and then give things a go themselves. Just getting to “stable”the third stage of the Journey of Change that underlies the Star – is a huge accomplishment for these children.

“Just getting to “stable” – the third stage of the Journey of Change that underlies the Star – is a huge accomplishment for these children.”

I love the fact that the Star has one area specifically about immigration with a different Journey of Change that is all about coping with uncertainty and making different plans for different contingencies (known as triple-track planning). And I appreciate how Triangle and its collaborators managed to design it in a way that even if children don’t get the permission to stay in the UK, it’s all about getting them ready for that decision.

It’s about getting children to think, “I need to not get too hung up on the immigration, that’s out of my control. I can only show up when they ask me to show up at the Home Office, but I need to get an education, I need to make friends and I need to think about what my options are in this country, but also be prepared that I may have to return. And I need to think about how I can make the most of this situation while I’m here, and trust the workers to look after me.”

This is something we’re passionate about at Triangle. We’ve done a lot of Stars for children, but I love the fact that the Planning Star is so specialist. All the Stars we design get under the skin of the client group and are trauma-informed, but this one is super trauma-informed. I think people would have forgiven us for not wanting to go down the route of immigration and unaccompanied asylum seeking children – it’s a complex sector, it’s quite legal and confusing – but I like the fact that we did it anyway, for children who will really benefit from it.

One other huge plus – the Planning Star allows people to collate data on asylum-seeking children that captures how they feel when they arrive, what support they accept, what their priorities are, where they’re able to progress, and what areas need more funding. For campaigners and policy-makers that is like gold dust. And if it leads to even better support for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, that would be truly great.

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The Planning Star was published in July 2020. A separate version, for adult refugees, was published at the end of 2020. Both Stars are available to all organisations with a Star licence and training is available for workers and managers. Contact us for more information on info@triangleconsulting.co.uk or +44 (0) 207 272 8765.

Integration Star proves a hit

After a successful pilot with the Refugee Council, the Integration Star for refugees is now available for widespread use, with an introductory webinar taking place this February. What’s more, the Star is a great fit with the Home Office’s integration framework, writes Triangle’s research analyst Dr Anna Good.

Designed for refugees needing to build lives in the UK, the long-awaited Integration Star was finally published at the end of 2020. It’s been in development for two years and has undergone a rigorous pilot with the Refugee Council and refugee community organisations that collaborated in the Star’s development. And it’s proven to be a powerfully transformative tool.

Not only has the Star gone down well with refugees and with workers, but it’s also been greeted positively by the Home Office – an important factor for refugee organisations reporting to the department or seeking Home Office funding.

From the outset, the Refugee Council wanted a tool that could map onto the Home Office’s “Indicators of Integration” framework. That was on Triangle’s agenda too – as part of the development process we carry out a detailed literature review that examines the issues affecting the sector. This time the review included each of the domains in the Home Office framework.

The Integration Star

Designed for use with refugees needing support to integrate into their new country and to build a new life there.

The Home Office framework mainly focuses on end outcomes of successful integration, such as work, housing, education and social connection. Within the Integration Star, these and other outcomes form the end point of Star domains. They are  typically realised at the top of the Journey of Change (the model of change that underlies every Star). But the Star also captures important changes in acknowledgement of issues, acceptance of help and attempts to change things. This makes for a nuanced tool that maps the stages refugees go through from getting practical help to building the knowledge, skills and confidence they need to integrate into their new country.

It was important, however, that the Home Office framework did not pre-determine the shape of the Star. That was developed from the bottom up in a series of workshops and expert interviews that teased out the issues for front-line workers and for refugees. As with all Outcomes Stars, what mattered was partnership and collaboration.

The drafting of a Star is a meticulous and lengthy process – if people knew how much detail went into it they would be amazed. The Integration Star had many, many iterations, examining the structure and the content through a number of different lenses.

As research analyst at Triangle, part of my role is to check that the scales have clearly defined stages so that readings are comparable when they are done by different people. I then crunch the numbers from the pilot and check the psychometric properties of the Star to see that it’s academically sound. In addition we put a lot of thought and testing into how the Star worked for different refugee circumstances – refugees who come in on a resettlement programme, and refugees who don’t have resettlement status and typically have been in the UK for longer.

It was encouraging – though by no means a given – that the final version of the Star mapped really well onto the Home Office framework. And Home Office officials have been very positive about the Star, seeing it as a much simpler, more accessible tool for refugees.

One worker from the pilot sums up the prevailing mood: “The Integration Star is a really powerful, clear tool that can visualise a client’s support needs. I think it provokes conversations that highlight support needs that may have otherwise been missed”.

A separate version of the Star, the Planning Star was published last year for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children.

The Integration Star and the Planning Star are available to all organisations with a Star licence and training is available for workers and managers. Join our Integration Star webinar on 9th February or contact us for more information on info@triangleconsulting.co.uk or +44 (0) 207 272 8765.

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Triangle Consulting Social Enterprise is an innovative, mission-led organisation that exists to help people reach their highest potential and live meaningful and fulfilling lives, often in the context of social disadvantage, trauma, disability or illness.

The Refugee Council works with individuals and families to make sure they can live safe, fulfilling lives in the UK after being forced to seek refuge from persecution and human rights abuses overseas.

The development of this Star was part funded by the EU Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund.

Other organisations taking part in the development of the Integration Star included: RETAS (Refugee Education Training Advice Service) Leeds, Leeds Refugee Forum, Path Yorkshire, Goodwin Development Trust, Humber Community Advice Services (H-CAS), Refugee Action Kingston, Iranian Association, Diversity Living Services, Bahar Women’s Association, Action for Community Development, West Yorkshire Somali Association, DAMASQ, Stepping Stone 4, Leeds Swahili Community.

The Refugee Council reaches for the Star

A major new tool to help refugees settle successfully in the UK is to be made available from this week – the Integration Star.

Created by Triangle, the social enterprise behind the Outcomes Star, in collaboration with the Refugee Council and others, the Integration Star focuses on eight key areas on which successful integration depends.

Triangle director Sara Burns said: “The Integration Star primarily focuses on the means and markers of successful integration, from employment and housing to education and health. It highlights refugees’ strengths, recognises the areas they need more information or support, and records their progress. Most importantly it makes them the centre of their own integration process.”

In a 7-8-month pilot of the new Star, caseworkers from a variety of organisations found that it opened up conversations with refugees on important subjects and gave workers a way in to providing crucial support.

“It really encouraged the client to have more autonomy in the conversation – it brought them to the centre of the discussion”

Case Worker

“The Star provoked conversations we wouldn’t normally have – like social isolation issues”

Case Worker
Man, woman and child walking down the road

Getting to the heart of these issues means refugees can integrate faster and more successfully,.which will help them to rebuild their lives in their new home.

The Refugee Council approached Triangle in 2018 to develop a new version of the Outcomes Star that would support the refugees they work with. They and several community refugee organisations worked closely with Triangle throughout the process, making sure that former refugees were involved all the way along.

Refugee Council Logo

“This is such an important piece of work that feeds into the national strategy for integrating refugees. The Integration Star has already proved itself in a really rigorous pilot – now it can help in supporting refugees throughout the UK to build new lives.”

Sara Burns

"The Star gives organisations that work with refugees an extremely useful tool that can help to shape the support they offer as well as measure progress and impact. Successful refugee integration means that people are enabled to rebuild their lives and become active members of their new communities”

Refugee Council's Head of Integration Andrew Lawton

The Integration Star was published in September 2020 after 18 months of development and launched in October 2020 via the Star Online – the online home of the Outcomes Star.

In addition to the materials created to use the Integration Star, Triangle is producing a range of resources to support its launch, including a webinar to share more information on the development process and pilot.

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Triangle Consulting Social Enterprise is an innovative, mission-led organisation that exists to help people reach their highest potential and live meaningful and fulfilling lives, often in the context of social disadvantage, trauma, disability or illness.

The Refugee Council works with individuals and families to make sure they can live safe, fulfilling lives in the UK after being forced to seek refuge from persecution and human rights abuses overseas.

The development of this star was part funded by the EU Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund.

Other organisations taking part in the development of the Integration Star included: RETAS (Refugee Education Training Advice Service) Leeds, Leeds Refugee Forum, Path Yorkshire, Goodwin Development Trust, Humber Community Advice Services (H-CAS), Refugee Action Kingston, Iranian Association, Diversity Living Services, Bahar Women’s Association, Action for Community Development, West Yorkshire Somali Association, DAMASQ, Stepping Stone 4, Leeds Swahili Community.

To participate in the Triangle webinar on the development and application of the Integration Star, organisations should contact info@triangleconsulting.co.uk to register their interest.

Triangle developed and published a separate Star for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in 2019 – the Planning Star.

Please contact info@triangleconsulting.co.uk in the first instance to discuss the Integration Star, Planning Star or other aspects of Triangle’s work.