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Council secures funding to help migrants improve their English

A new project aiming to boost community cohesion and reduce pressure on public services by improving the English of Fenland's migrant population is being launched thanks to £110,500 of government funding.

Languages

Cash from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government will be used to run English language courses in Wisbech and recruit, train and manage volunteer bi-lingual advisors to provide a migrant support service.

Fenland District Council, working in partnership with the Rosmini Centre in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire County Council, and other organisations and employment agencies, has received £110,500 over two years for the Bi-lingual Advisor and Basic Language Project.

The project will improve migrants' English language skills, support them to gain basic qualifications, improve their knowledge of legislation and help them access local services.

Poor language skills can cause problems with integration and interaction with local communities, with the common use of Russian between Fenland's Eastern European population resulting in few taking the time to learn English.

The issues can be evidenced in a number of ways, including driving offences due to a lack of knowledge of the law, high demand for translation services, seeking medical help from Accident and Emergency departments instead of a GP, and misunderstanding the UK's tax, national insurance and benefits system.

The project would be undertaken by the Rosmini Centre, in partnership with education, social and health care providers in the Fenland area and government agencies including HM Revenue and Customs.

It will recruit 20 volunteer bi-lingual advisors, who will help migrants with any aspect of living and working in Fenland, and provide English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) courses, which can lead to basic qualifications such as first aid, health and safety, safeguarding children, and food and hygiene.

A Council spokesperson said: "This funding is great news for Fenland. Integrating into the community, being able to benefit from it and to contribute to it, rests on people's ability to speak English. Providing opportunities to learn is particularly important both for the people starting life here and for the settled communities they are joining."

Article added: June 12, 2018