• Over 40 national and regional organizations will share £3m to deliver projects

  • £3.6million more for Welcome Hubs across the UK

  • Ongoing money for the English language in England

Holders of Hong Kong British National (Overseas) (BN(O)) status building a new life in the UK will continue to receive vital support after the government confirmed today (23 July) the next phase of the welcome program.

Today’s package will help individuals and their families on BN(O) visas to settle in the UK. Since its launch in early 2021, more than 123,000 eligible Hong Kongers and their family members have chosen to take advantage of this offer and applied for the BN(O) visa.

The welcome program will continue to provide:

  • An additional £3 million for over 40 voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organizations to carry out their national and regional projects in the areas of mental health, social integration, employability and the fight against hate crimes

  • An additional £3.6million to continue the network of 12 drop-in centers across the UK that help people get to know each other and connect to services in their area

  • extra support for English lessons and hardship support for those who need it (England only)

  • and welcome pack updates at GOV.UK, available in English and Cantonese

Leveling Up Secretary Greg Clark said:

We have close ties with the people of Hong Kong and want those who have chosen to build a home here to be supported in their successful settlement.

I am happy that our new neighbors continue to benefit from the expert support of the municipalities, dedicated reception centers and fantastic local projects thanks to this funding.

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

  • help for parents and guardians who want to know which schools to send their children to and how to get in touch with other parents

  • help find work – across the UK there have been seminars, one-on-one coaching sessions and entrepreneur networking events to build skills, confidence and provide interview practices to help people to get jobs that match their experience

  • a dedicated mental health helpline to support young people and adults who may find it difficult to start over in a new country

  • a range of events and activities to integrate BN(Os), including art classes, museum visits and organized city walks, with opportunities for communities to experience 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 other members of the community and direct them to local support and advice.

One newcomer said: “Café Connect is a great place for me as I want to experience English history and culture. I want to be part of life here. It’s good that I can talk to English people as my understanding improves and one day I will talk to everyone the way they do.

The Manchester-based Wai Yin Society helped Ms L who arrived in the UK from Hong Kong in 2021 with her husband and daughter and felt disoriented and socially isolated. They helped her find a job as a lunchtime assistant at a local school and are now helping her take a food hygiene course to help her build on her existing skills.

Ms. L said, “I am happy that Wai Yin advised and supported me.

One person accessing support for Hong Kongers in Britain through their CV writing clinic said: ‘It was very helpful to me as the speaker told me about the job search culture in UK which I did not know before. I was able to understand better because the speaker spoke in Cantonese and also understood what a Hong Konger might be concerned about when looking for a job. It’s not just about polishing a CV, but also about helping me gain the confidence to find a job.

Today’s announcements mean organizations can expand their support to reach more people and provide tailored services to meet their needs.

The welcome program also provides funding to create a reporting and support service for Hong Kongers and all other East and South East Asian communities in the UK who experience racism or any form of of hate. ‘On Your Side’, led by Protection Approaches alongside a consortium of community organizations, will soon be launched.

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

Councils across England, which already play a key role in ensuring that those with BN(O) status are warmly welcomed and supported, will continue to provide targeted English and destitute support where aid is necessary.