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24.07.17

Making UK cities inclusive and welcoming for newcomers

We all know the difficulties associated with moving to a new town – not knowing your way around, having to integrate into the community and meeting new people.

But for those moving to the UK from abroad this process can be even harder, as people have to adjust to a new language and a foreign culture. That’s why a new project has been set up to help new arrivals integrate in five cities in the UK.

The Inclusive Cities project, which is being run by Oxford University, will run for two years and work with authorities in Liverpool and four other cities to make them more welcoming places for people moving to the UK.

It will draw on information and experience from similar initiatives in Europe, as well as the highly-acclaimed Welcoming America initiative in the United States.

Liverpool was picked in particular for its significant levels of migration over the last decade, as well as its diverse demographic and economic profile.

A local taskforce will be set up by the end of 2017 to develop and implement an action plan to help newcomers and their neighbours integrate smoothly into local communities.

“Liverpool has a proud reputation dating back hundreds of years as a welcoming city and our population is growing at a rate we have not seen for many decades,” said Cllr Frank Hont, Liverpool City Council cabinet member for housing, who will lead on the initiative.

“We’re fortunate in that there is lots of regeneration happening in communities right across Liverpool, but that can cause challenges as some places have seen rapid changes their population.”

Cllr Hont also explained that the initiative was aimed at easing the nerves of some who may not perceive immigration as an entirely positive thing.

“People understandably get nervous when they see the dynamics of their community changing, and in some parts of the city that has been considerable over the last decade or so,” he continued.

“Our job is to work with others to help communities through that process, whether their new neighbours are students or others moving here from both home and abroad. The Inclusive Cities programme has the potential to help us become a leading city in doing that.”

And Cllr Emily Spurrell, cabinet member for neighbourhoods and community safety, said that there was already lots of good work going on via organisations such as Merseyside Polonia, Asylum Link, Liverpool housing associations and the School of Sanctuary.

“What we want to do is help spread that wider and further and embed it throughout the city,” she argued. “We can’t be complacent because, although people in Liverpool voted to remain in the EU, the vote for Brexit and events such as the international migrant crisis and terrorist attacks all have the potential to caused cause anxiety, nervousness and suspicion.

“Like everywhere else, we have seen a rise in reported hate crime which is why it is so vital we work harder than ever to encourage cohesion, bust myths and promote and celebrate different cultures.”

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