Integrating Communities

Posted on the 13th September 2018

Bolton Council was supported by the Controlling Migration Fund from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG). The fund was launched in November 2016 to help local authorities mitigate the impacts of recent migration on communities in their area.

The Achievement, Cohesion and Integration Service (ACIS) is a wing of Bolton Council that supports families new to the UK, which aims to promote cohesion and integration between the existing resident communities in Bolton and International New Arrivals. This goal is to promote mutual understanding between communities and to provide essential information and guidance to new arrivals. They are working closely with well established voluntary sector partners to ensure that asylum seekers, refugees and economic migrants are welcomed to Bolton and supported to understand about life in the UK.

Key partners in the project are BRASS (Befriending Refugees and Asylum Seekers) and BLGC (Bolton Lads and Girls Club). BRASS provides English language classes, conversation cafés, JobCentre Plus sessions, and mother and toddler workshops. All classes are hugely popular. BLGC has run sessions for children from the host community to enable their exploration of themes around culture and status. To date, all partners have reported participant uptake beyond initially targeted numbers.

The following example shows just how important organisations like BRASS are to help support and integrate those new to life in Britain:

Nosheen came to Bolton to seek asylum in January and attended the BRASS project for an information and advice session. She told Carol that she was feeling very isolated and had not managed to make any friends since being here. Carol spoke to her at great lengths about her skills and what she had been doing in her own country and it transpired that she had been a teacher in a primary school in her own country and had some amazing skills.

Nosheen was asked if she would like to become a volunteer and she began her placement with Brass on a weekly basis volunteering to teach very basic English to a group of women.

Since being a volunteer and with the support of Brass her confidence has improved immensely and she is no longer isolated. From this, she has made some lifelong friends in her local community who now support and advice each other.

Activities put on for those new to Bolton include British Values and Life in the UK workshops and English language classes for parents, The feedback from the INA parents who have attended the British Values/ Life in the UK workshops and ESOL classes so far has been positive. One commented on experiencing a

“very good interesting lesson… this information is very important for (me) and my family”; another stated that “it was a very helpful workshop for me to know about the British values, because now we are living in this country.”

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