As the UK continues to navigate through Brexit and Covid-19 pandemic, studies and analyses of these complex processes highlight the importance of addressing the root causes of pre-existing problems of poverty, inequality, social injustice, structural racism and more..
For migrants, they face an additional challenge in the form of policies designed to create a ‘hostile environment’ for immigrants in a general sense. These policies largely limit access to healthcare, welfare, employment, housing and other forms of mainstream provision.
During lockdown, the ‘hostile environment’ has even graver consequences as charities and organizations supporting migrants have had to close their in-person services or reduce service provision. These services do more than just advocacy or legal signposting, but also greatly facilitated migrants’ integration into UK society, by connecting them to local communities and offering pathways to improve functional English language skills. For many migrants, these services and pathways are a ‘life-line’ and without their support, migrants risk becoming socially excluded.
In response to this challenging context, Migrant Action has launched its new volunteer-led project, ‘Welcome to England’. The new project builds on the success of the ‘No Child Left Behind’ project last summer, whereby migrants and their families received a packages of support including online tutoring and befriending support. Our new project also involves the provision of online ESOL and functional skills to newly arrived migrants in Barnsley in partnership with Migrant Action’s partner- ELSH.
Families new to the community throughout Leeds and West Yorkshire have been paired with volunteer tutors. Volunteers and migrants are matched based on common language skills. It is hoped that this will facilitate shared understandings of migration.
The aim of the project is to enable migrants feel welcome and empowered as they embark on their integration journey, developing functional English language skills. Our volunteer tutoring and befriending model offers a friendly approach to integration by forging positive relationships. This is vital particularly at a time when most people especially newly arrived migrants are likely to feel most isolated, excluded and shy of belonging to their new society.
Below are the profiles of some volunteers who are already involved in the project- however, we are always looking for more! If interested in taking part, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01138330991.