Ipswich Integration Project – Helping Others to be Active in the Town

A project aimed at giving recent overseas arrivals to Ipswich the chance to make new friends and gain in confidence in contributing their skills to the wider community has just been given an extra funding boost.   Ipswich Integration Group (IIG) was set up by a number of recent migrants to the town in 2015. They had previously been working as part of a European Integration Fund project, but when this funding came to an end, a number of local groups stepped in to try and plug the funding gap

The Ipswich & Suffolk Council for Racial Equality (ISCRE) successfully applied for a grant of £10k from the Big Lottery Fund, with another £4k being contributed jointly by Skills Funding Agency funding for the English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) lessons and Ipswich Community Media, which will be providing laptops for the project and the promotion and publicity.   The £10k secured from the Big Lottery Fund will be used to deliver a series of conversational English and workshops that will give participants some basic skills and the confidence that goes with them for economically disadvantaged migrant communities including; Bangladeshi, Afghani, African, Asian, Iraqi, EU migrants and many other nationalities.

IIG is based in Westgate Ward in Ipswich, which is in the top 10% most deprived wards in the country. Westgate has consistently seen the highest numbers of migrants in the town and the Norwich Road area in particular is characterised by high levels of low cost private rental housing and is therefore the ‘entry point’ for new arrivals into Ipswich.

Currently there are over 200 people registered on the IIG database. Almost 75% of those currently signed up are either unemployed or economically inactive. All have English and integration needs that are hindering their employment or confining them to low paid work.

According to Phanuel Mutumburi, ISCRE’s Business & Operations Director “IIG is a key means by which many of Ipswich’s most deprived and isolated residents will kick start their journey towards achieving more friends and contacts, a job and a chance to more fully contribute to their new home town. It is truly a hand up not a hand out for those involved.”   Bruce Macgregor from Ipswich Community Media added “This grant will help us expand our work in the community with migrants from the most deprived areas of Ipswich and enable us to target those on the periphery of society. We are very grateful to have been awarded a grant by the Big Lottery Fund and SFA and would like to offer our sincere thanks to all the community interest companies that have provided support”.

The IIG team will be working with other organisations in the town, including Ipswich Borough and Suffolk County Councils, to deliver a number of key outcomes by the end of this summer:   40 migrants directly engaged in the project 60% demonstrating personal development and upskilling 50% achieving tangible positive progression 150 people indirectly engaged in the project   The Group will has the right resources in place to continue operating in the longer term “Ipswich is a town with a great future ahead of it and I’m sure that many of those attending IIG classes will be at the forefront of delivering a socially vibrant and economically healthy place to live and work” concluded