The Community Cohesion Officer discussed the report submitted and invited questions.
The Chairperson queried the possibility of an uptake in tension within the communities as the visas and hosting period for Ukrainian Guests came to an end, though there had not been a change to the situation in the country while time elapsed.
The Community Cohesion Officer stated at the beginning of the crisis the Ukraine scheme had a very different response to the Afghan scheme as an example. People had generally been very welcoming and very supportive and they had not seen an increase in Community tensions relating to the Ukraine scheme. They had considered that the cost of living crisis could change this but for the moment, they had actually seen it increasing Community tensions.
The Community Cohesion officer stated they have seen Housing leading on the Ukraine scheme and they would be best placed to provide specific data. She stated they had seen a small amount of hosts in the area where perhaps the relationship may have broken down and families have been able to have required additional housing or support, but had been significant initiative from Welsh Government and from the Wales Housing to strengthen hosts and family relations by way of delivering workshops specifically for hosts and their homes in the Ukraine Scheme, providing support directly for hosts to try and increase that the longevity of the stay so that it doesn't get to six months and the relationship is broken down. She stated that they had also seen, under the Ukraine scheme, that most people who arrived had wanted to start working straight away. They had good qualifications, and wanted to start training, in such cases, people have really had a more positive relationship with their hosts. A small percentage had seen a breakdown in the relationship.
A Member stated she knew of new arrivals being extremely educated and yet being offered jobs that were below their qualifications which in turn was demoralizing. The Member also cited further examples and queried what can be done to support individuals given their circumstances and how can their well-being be supported while ensuring that they receive support. The Councillor also queried the prevalence of hate crime.
The Community Cohesion Officer responded that they are working with organizations involved with displaced people in with a view to placing those who are fully qualified in specific areas and ensuring that the procedures are followed to allow such qualifications being utilised. She cited an example, where displaced people in action have a program where medical professionals can get the equivalent of the qualification recognized in the UK which is translated so that they can practice medicine in the UK without having to we go through training again.
A Member mentioned that the visitors were having to report to the job centre but receive the message that they were required to take up employment irrespective of their qualifications to ensure receipt of benefits.
The Member also queried hate crime figures as she felt through examples she provided, that they were recorded incorrectly.
The Community Cohesion Officer provided possible explanations to the examples cited and confirmed that she would relay the information to colleagues in South Wales Police so they were made aware of the concerns.
The Chairperson thanked the member for bringing the issues to the attention of the committee and suggested inviting a representative from SWP speak to the Committee in this regard.
A Member thanked the officers for the report and praised the effort of Community Cohesion. He acknowledged the projects that had come forward at grassroots and at strategic levels. He mentioned that there was a gap in the information available around reporting of Hate crime. He mentioned it would be interesting to hear from Victim Support or South Wales Police about confidence that victims have in the reporting mechanisms that exist in seeking and actually receiving justice. He also felt that there was no indication if the reports had concluded with a satisfactory outcome for the victims.
The Chairperson thanked the Member for his questions and stated that the issue was recognised that it was not a new issue in terms of hate crime as to whether people with protected characteristics feel that reporting it is actually worth the hassle of reporting it was something the team needed to address
The Community Cohesion Officer responded by stating that they needed to understand the barriers to disclosure for specific communities, which was something they try to incorporate in their training and awareness sessions. The team were happy to contact Victim Support for further information on things like the referral process and the aftercare process and feel they would be able to get attendance from officers to share information in a similar meeting at a future date. She mentioned that certain figures in society create divisive languages, the Community Cohesion team aim to create counter narratives in response. As an example she shared that there was an organisation made-up of former, far right wing members who have a whole segment on how to develop and how to share counternarratives with individuals that may be prone to utilization or all these sort of in the process of being radicalised.
The aim is to replace hateful language, hateful graffiti with general positive messages that are generic, thereby not mentioning any specific communities.
RESOLVED: That the Cabinet Committee Equalities notes the content of the report.