Connections between migrant and local communities have been strengthened but many migrants are still afraid to come forward about exploitation - even when offered anonymity - a new report has revealed.
The Migrants’ Rights Network has issued its latest report on the Outsider Project, which was launched in January 2017, with the aim of getting migrants living in Boston to take the lead in helping to build a stronger local community and creating a more positive discussion around immigration.
The report looks at the progress which has been made in the last year to tackle the three main issues of building community relationships, access to English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes, and ending the exploitation of migrant workers.
Alongside a series of listening workshops, the project has seen events including a Sunday Salsa Fiesta and a stall at the Boston Christmas Market, free pilot ESOL classes and evidence gathering on case studies of exploitation.
The report quotes one of the Migrant Leaders for Boston: ‘‘The activities developed by the Migrant Leader team aided bringing people from different backgrounds together.
“Non-migrants had the opportunity to meet new people and vice versa.
“It became easier to communicate between groups that were completely separated and build trust and strong relationships.”
The report praises the first two initiatives as successes.
The ESOL classes, held during working hours, it says, were ‘fully-booked’ and had waiting lists of the same length.
It says the agency which offered the classes were ‘enthusiastic’ to continue them and as a result had been connected with Lincolnshire County Council discuss taking forward the provision.
The two events, it said, had seen 80 per cent of migrant leaders rate them as completely effective to improving community relations.
When it came to ending exploitation, the report said the team had gathered anonymised case studies from victims, however, it said: “with the fear of reprisals from agencies or employers, even when offered full anonymity and other options for gathering their stories, the majority of interviewees declined.
“This presented challenges in moving this aspect of the project forward, but towards the end of the project a number of strong case studies were recorded by the team, and will be presented to local relevant stakeholders.
Fizza Qureshi, director of MRN, said: “This project shows that migrants themselves are often the best agents of change.
“We should be listening to people and empowering them to tackle the issues they see in their day to day lives.
“The Outsider Project was driven by local communities’ needs and energy, and has had a real, positive impact on the local area.”