Fenland has been awarded nearly £180,000 of government cash to help tackle migration issues including creating better community cohesion and migrant homelessness.
The district council successfully secured two bids for cash from the Controlling Migration Fund with Communities Secretary Sajid Javid announcing allocation of £89,657 for a ‘Grow it, Cook it, Share it’ initiative aimed at building better understanding between different nationalities and backgrounds through food.
He also announced a further £86,400 for a project to tackle migrant homelessness in Fenland and the impact it has on communities.
The council will use the funding to launch a new Migrant Outreach Service by the autumn.
The project will work with migrants threatened with homelessness or who are already sleeping rough, with the aim of reducing the problem and preventing people from returning to the streets with the right advice and support.
It will also respond to the concerns of local communities about migrants sleeping rough and related issues of employer and landlord exploitation.
The two-year project will include the employment of a full-time migrant outreach worker who will engage with migrants facing homelessness, often when they are no longer required for work and either told to leave or are removed from their homes.
The role will also see collaborative working with the council’s housing team to explore accommodation options, benefits advice and deposits and tackle illegal eviction and harassment.
Councillor Mike Cornwell, Fenland’s portfolio holder for cohesion, was delighted the council’s bids to the CMF were successful.
He said: “The Migrant Outreach Service will build trust and confidence with the migrant population and help identify where our support is needed.
“It will also enhance a lot of good work already happening in Fenland such as Operation Pheasant, a multi-agency project tackling migrant exploitation, helping to ensure issues relating to HMOs (Houses of Multiple Occupancy) continue to be addressed.”
Fenland received the award for the ‘Grow it, Cook it, Share it’ project on behalf of a consortium including ACCESS – Supporting Migrants in East Anglia, Groundwork East and Clarion Housing.
The project aims to break down barriers between resident and migrant communities by encouraging people from different nationalities and backgrounds to
work together to grow and cook fruits and vegetables from their cultures, and then share and compare them with others.
The two-year project will be delivered in two phases. Working with Job Centre Plus, the first phase will see around 12 long-term unemployed volunteers from different communities, and with an interest in a career in horticulture or construction, recruited to a Green Skills team.
The team will then work on a number of sites including local allotments and school grounds to create raised beds for growing vegetables, as well as community BBQ areas; gaining qualifications at the same time.
In phase two, after the sites have been created, parents with young children from the different communities will be invited to receive training and support to grow their own produce and cook using fresh ingredients in a fun, learning environment.
Communities will be able to interact further through monthly ‘bring and share’ feasts.
Fenland’s bid to the CMF said: “The integration of immigrants into existing communities is currently very limited, with crime and fear of crime being a major factor. But by giving individuals the opportunity to interact and develop friendships through a shared goal, it is hoped the project will develop integration and foster acceptance of each other.”