‘Active Citizens Together’ (ACT) Project crosses the region

The ‘Active Citizens Together’ Project is reaching out to European migrants, encouraging them to play their part in the community life across the East of England.

The ‘Active Citizens Together’ Project, funded by the European Commission from October 2015 until this September, is reaching out to European migrants, encouraging them to play their part in the community life across the East of England.

As well as participating in the project’s interactive workshops on community engagement, volunteering and voting, European citizens have been signing up to our mentoring programme which matches them up with peers who have gained valuable skills and expertise as a result of some aspect of active citizenship.

After one mentoring visit to the Magistrates and Crown Courts for two Polish and an Italian citizen, our host, a local Magistrate said:

 “…it was an absolute pleasure to meet you all and I am very happy that you all had such a good experience. It was wonderful to meet people who showed such an interest in and wished perhaps to make their own contribution to the Magistracy and to the community as a whole.”

Although some local contacts advised us that the numbers of European migrant citizens coming forward to get involved in the project post-Brexit would probably decline, that hasn’t happened. The rate of take-up of workshop places has remained the same, and the take-up of places in our ESOL classes (English for Speakers of Other Languages) on active citizenship has actually increased post-Brexit.

The project continues to criss-cross the region with workshops, ESOL classes and mentoring programme meetings held so far in Bedford, Bury St Edmunds, Cambridge, Great Yarmouth, Hatfield, Ipswich, Kings Lynn, Luton, Norwich, Peterborough, Thetford, Watford and Wisbech.

There are no other projects like this in the country, and so far, citizens from 18 of the 27 other EU member states have been involved in our workshops, ESOL classes and/or mentoring programme.

The top five nationalities represented so far been:

  • Polish 31%
  • Lithuanian 20%
  • Portuguese 12%
  • Spanish 10%
  • Romanian 7%

As well as having provided over 300 workshop or ESOL class places to the end of February, the other vital element of the project is nurturing the support of local partners who give up their time to come to meet with European migrant citizens, and encourage them to take up local community involvement opportunities or voluntary work.

For example, a Hate Crime Officer from a Housing Association, working in partnership with the Police and Council contacted us offering to meet with European citizens to help build confidence and encourage them to share their concerns.

A language teacher told us that the majority of her students are EU citizens looking to settle and find work in the UK and to ‘fit in with the local community’. She has offered to help the project out with her Russian language skills.

The project website has details of future events http://smp.eelga.gov.uk/migrant-workers/act-project.aspx.

For more information, please contact Sue Hay e: sue.hay@eelga. gov.uk m: 07920 257964 or Rachel Heathcock e: Rachel.heathcock@eelga.gov.uk t: 01284 758311

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