Helping newcomers to integrate

Last week I had an interesting conversation with the small team behind a new website, info4migrants.co.uk, based in West Yorkshire. It’s early days, but info4migrants looks like it could develop into an invaluable resource.

There’s been a lot of debate recently about ways to help migrants integrate into British society, with Cameron making a series of announcements on that theme last month, as well as highlighting the abuse of spousal visas in his EU reform proposals earlier this week. info4migrants is an online resource that provides accessible and reliable information about British culture, rules and practical support — so it seems to me like an idea whose time has come.

Initiatives such as this site offer an obvious and cost-effective way to help with integration, so that those who move to the UK to work (or seeking refuge from war) can better understand how to integrate. The information is designed to be useful both to migrants arriving in the UK, and to staff and volunteers who support them. The site operates in six languages here in the UK, and has sister sites in six other EU countries.

The catch, predictably, is that the money is running out. Initial European seed-funding supported the site’s creation, with a successful launch in the autumn garnering positive recommendations from Refugee Week and the Refugee Support Network. But the costs of maintaining and developing the site in the future will not be small, especially considering the expertise needed in translation. The team have come up with some creative ideas for future funding, but would welcome further input.

I was impressed by the commitment of the website team when I met them last week. I have no doubt that the site they’ve produced, even in its current form, will be of great value to those who work on the front line helping to receive and support migrants, as well as the migrants themselves. The government would be well advised to put its money where its mouth is and support this project.

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