‘Active Citizens Together’ (ACT) Project Update

The ‘Active Citizens Together’ Project continues to attract European migrant citizens keen to engage in community life in the East of England.

The project has a number of components, including the development of bespoke teaching materials for English language tutors on active citizenship. These materials explore the democratic process in the UK, focussing on the East of England. A tutor who used the materials in Kings Lynn earlier this year said that the lesson was a “jumping off point for a volunteer project - we got some funding to identify projects for disadvantaged people or local community benefit … we will take around some migrants and NEET clients (Young people not in education, employment or training) and British people to work on the projects as a team - building bridges and friendships, and giving out time credits as a reward … so your project has had a measurable impact!”

Jose from Spain, now living in Cambridge, said (in his own words): “It was very helpfully to me and of course the good company, teachers and volunteer that we had. I think it was good how the workshop was, with the games, the role games, the activities and all the vocabulary. I learnt a few new phrasal verbs, vocabulary, how important is the voluntary work in England and how politics works there. After the workshop I started to look for any voluntary work around the town.”

Another component of the project - workshops run by the project team for European migrant citizens - are also having an impact, including fostering local networking between the agencies taking part in the workshops, either as guest presenters or experienced participants. A Polish participant in a workshop last July contacted the project team last month about a Healthwatch Hertfordshire project for the Polish community, in partnership with Hertfordshire University and Public Health to explore barriers to health and social care in the UK. She was keen to have our help in publicising the research.

The project’s third component is the mentoring programme. This provides workshop participants and language class students with the opportunity to find out more about opportunities to become active citizens of the East of England. We have arranged, and accompanied people to a wide variety of mentoring visits including schools; a charity shop; Community centres; a Citizens Advice Bureau; a sports centre; a magistrates’ court; a Further Education college; a volunteer bureau.

Two Polish and one French local councillors have also played an important role as mentors and inspirational role models.  

We have run seventeen workshops so far, for 174 people, and language tutors have run 27 classes across the region on active citizenship for almost 200 students. Most countries in the European Union have been represented in these sessions. And 20 people have now been introduced to mentors in the community.

For more information about the project, please visit our website http://smp.eelga.gov.uk/migrant-workers/act-project.aspx.

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