Alex Cunningham visits programme helping refugees integrate into Northeast communities


22 August 2023: Today Alex Cunningham, MP for Stockton North, visited Northeast RISE (Refugee Integration, Support and Employment) in his constituency for first-hand experience of the work they are doing to help refugees who are new to the area settle. The visit was organised by Big Society Capital, the UK’s leading social impact investor, in order to highlight the benefits of public service innovation in delivery and funding.

Northeast RISE provides a number of frontline services for newly-recognised refugees including helping them find accommodation, upskill and find employment (including interview preparation) and form local connections in communities.

During the visit, Alex spoke to some of the teams delivering the programme, including mentors who work with refugees directly through the process of integrating into their new communities. He was given insight into the challenges that staff face delivering the service, and the flexibility offered by the delivery model which is easily modified to ensure it runs efficiently and generates positive results.

Benefits of the outcomes model include enabling services to be delivered by a network of local charities and social enterprises on the ground – who very often have a deep understanding of the issues and can offer personalised, flexible care. Another is that the outcomes of these programmes are assessed regularly and transparently, meaning it is easy to measure their effectiveness and adapt when needed – which is unfortunately not the approach of more traditional public service delivery programmes.

It was Alex’s second time visiting a recipient of social impact investment, having taken a tour of Veterans at Ease, a charity which provides mental health support to military veterans, earlier in the year. Social impact investment has channelled £17m of investment into the Tees Valley area in the last decade. Some of this investment has helped fund the Northeast RISE project, bringing with it the individual and community benefits that addressing this social need create.

Alex Cunningham, MP for Stockton North, said:

“I feel quite excited about the work that’s actually happening here and to find out how the finance model works, but the most important thing is the outcomes. Talking to the case workers here has been quite fascinating because of the number of successes they have had. I would love to see more of this sort of thing happen.”

Martha McGregor, Programme Director for Northeast RISE at Bridges Outcomes Partnerships, said:

“It’s really great to see political support for the work we’re doing for refugees, for the investment in the North East also for this type of contracting which makes such a big difference to the way we run our public services.

Outcomes contracts transform the way that we deliver services to make them as impactful as possible and allow for the funds to make the difference and reach the people who really need it.”

Stephen Muers, Chief Executive of Big Society Capital, said:

“Northeast RISE do amazing work which helps integration for refugees. Supporting people facing significant barriers integrate into local areas is a win-win situation, and the partnership provides an innovative mix of local expertise and efficient funding to ensure this is done as effectively as possible.

Outcomes contracts have amazing potential, and we hope that they are revisited as a way to deliver public services combining excellent outcomes with cost-effectiveness”



Press contact: Ian Young

About Big Society Capital

Big Society Capital is the UK’s leading social impact investor. Our mission is to grow the amount of money invested in tackling social issues and inequalities in the UK. We do this by investing our own capital and helping others invest for impact too.

Since 2012, we have helped build a market that has directed more than £8 billion into social purpose organisations tackling issues from homelessness and mental health, to childhood obesity and fuel poverty, a ten-fold increase in ten years.

Further information about Big Society Capital can be found at