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Funding seeks to ease pressure on services

Projects to reduce pressure on rural public services by helping migrant workers and their families are being launched in Cambridgeshire.

Some £110,500 of government funding will be used to run English language courses and recruit, train and manage volunteer bi-lingual advisors to provide a migrant support service.

Fenland District Council will work in partnership with the Rosmini Centre in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire County Council, and other organisations to deliver the project.

It will seek to 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 resulting in few migrants taking the time to learn English.

This has resulted in migrant workers being involved in driving offences due to a lack of knowledge of the law and high demand for translation services in the area.

Communities minister Lord Bourne said: "These new projects will further support communities in coming together to address local challenges, help recent arrivals settle into their new communities and also provide extra services for the benefit of all.

"We know that refugees face particular challenges in settling into British life, so we are providing additional support to help them find work and improve their English language skills."

Migrant families often seek medical help from accident and emergency departments instead of a GP, and misunderstanding the UK's tax, national insurance and benefits system.

The project will be undertaken by the Rosmini Centre, in partnership with education, social and health care providers in the Fenland area and government agencies.

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 courses.

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.”

Fenland District Council is launching a separate project with £140,000 of government funding to improve residents' health and wellbeing.

It will provide tailored sports and physical activities to lower income workers aged 30-55 – comprising of around 10,000 migrant and 5,000 British workers.

The project aims to help improve the lives of the working community and help ease pressures on local services from migration and aid social integration.

A third project, which has received £119,500 of government funding, aims to better understand migration in Fenland and help the district prepare for post-Brexit challenges.

This project aims to assess the needs of migrant workers and their families, assess the impact of migration on local communities and plan for any new migration to the area.

Local farmers, employers and agencies will be contacted to record numbers of seasonal workers, migrant nationalities, accommodation and transport provision.

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