Yesterday, the Government released their Integrated Communities Strategy Green Paper which is up for consultation until the 5th June 2018. Although the paper contains an emphasis on the importance of localised initiatives, the lack of funding pledges for those services may render tangible progress non-existent.
Within the Integration Green Paper, it is noted that a ‘worrying number of communities, are divided along race, faith or socio-economic lines.’ In response, this initial strategy identifies and proposes priority policy areas to help drive integration in the UK.
At JAN Trust, we are encouraged by the acknowledgement of and focus on marginalised ethnic minority women, who are disproportionally affected by some of the key problem areas raised in the paper. These include lower levels of English language proficiency, labour market opportunities, meaningful social mixing and decreased rates of civic engagement contributing, in part, to social isolation.
The paper reveals that the Muslim population, Muslim women especially, are reported to have lower levels of English proficiency than other group over the age of 16. The significance of this is vast as the importance of learning the English language is absolutely fundamental and necessary for integration. Learning the language unlocks the potential of overcoming all the other potential barriers when it comes to assimilating into British society. Without meaningful access to essential ESOL services these communities are hugely disadvantaged.
In an attempt to alleviate this, the Government have proposed a new strategy for ESOL programmes in Britain, identifying the fact that problems with integration cannot be tackled with one singular policy. The new focus will be on piloting and establishing unique localised English language initiatives to empower these communities. This will initially take place across five specific areas; Bradford, Blackburn with Darwen, Peterborough, Walsall and Waltham Forest. It however must be recognised that to see the true advantages of such policies emerge it will be necessary for all initiatives to be rolled out nationally in the coming years, successful integration across the board mandates a national strategy.
The paper also stresses that the availability and affordability of local classes are hugely important for women from minority communities in particular, as other responsibilities within the home can become an obstacle to the prioritisation of learning.
At JAN Trust, we have years of experience in this area and cannot emphasise enough how important it is for local BAMER and Muslim women to have an easily accessible centre for learning. The importance of localised grassroots initiatives such as ours in tackling social isolation for marginalised women is absolutely essential and since 1989 we have proven that this model works. We have pioneered this as our core-work for nearly 30 years, closely working with BAMER and Muslim women and providing ESOL and skills based classes. These classes are vital to build independence, a sense of self-determination and to enable integration into modern day British society.
There has been a long historical lack of funding for local grassroots organisations like ourselves with funding for ESOL falling by over 50% since 2009. However, the papers’ recognition of the importance of localised services for the future of integration policy is a step forward. We hope that these proposals are honoured and that funding for local grassroots initiatives such as JAN Trust is prioritised and realised. As yet there exists no clear detail about how policies will be funded, and without a solid commitment to funding it is questionable whether this strategy will be obtainable.
Follow the link below to view the Green Paper and have your say about how important it is to fund and support local grassroots organisations:
To read more about the pioneering work we do to tackle social isolation and create more integrated communities click here: