Celebrating the MiFriendly Cities programmeJuly 6, 2021 Tags: Birmingham, Coventry, housing, MiFriendly Cities, migrants, refugees, rights, Wolverhampton
MiFriendly Cities was a three-year initiative across Birmingham, Coventry and Wolverhampton to help our region become even more ‘migration friendly’. Funded by the EU’s Urban Innovative Actions, it brought together local authorities, universities, NGOs, social enterprises, companies and consultancies to deliver an exciting programme of activities, designed to help migrants in the three cities feel welcome and able to make a positive contribution to their new communities.
Birmingham Community Matters supported people on some of the MiFriendly Cities projects to work through their ideas and challenges around fundraising, choosing a suitable structure, and planning for the future.
We also loved hearing about the projects and stories that grew from MiFriendly Cities. As the initiative has recently come to an end, we want to share details of some of the projects, under four themes: Creativity, Rights, Housing, and Communication, connection and skills.
Padendere Community Sewing Group was born from a Zimbabwean community group in Wolverhampton, through which migrants and refugees came together to support one another through shared activities – such as singing songs, cooking, and exchanging knowledge and skills such as sewing and knitting. Pandendere means ‘on the nest’. You can read the Padendere Community Sewing Group impact report or find out more at the Facebook group: facebook.com/framatho
‘Create and Talk’ by Maokwo in Coventry focuses on celebrating women, exploring mental health in safe spaces, and creative expression, as well as producing the online ‘My City’ exhibition for the project. Maokwo means ‘hands’ in the Bantu language of the Shona people in Zimbabwe. Learn more at maokwo.com.
Also in Coventry, Pamoja Music UK brings people of all backgrounds together through music, delivering workshops, training, performances, and recording diverse artists. It won the Connecting Communities Integration Award in 2021. Find out more at the Facebook group: facebook.com/pamojamusicuk.
The ‘Get Out From Your Box!’ project, led by the African French Speaking Community Support group (based in Smethwick just outside Birmingham), helped people from the African French-speaking community to engage with politics. It held hustings, online debates and information sessions about key issues, and helped people register to vote. You can read the Get Out From Your Box! impact report here.
The ‘What I Need to Know’ (WINK) project from Birmingham-based Migrants at Work supported people, communities and organisations to learn about migrant employment rights. It helped people who were facing immigration-related workplace issues.
It’s Our Right in Wolverhampton produced a website, paintings and illustrated e-books all about rights, explaining complex legal terms in accessible and easy to understand ways.
CARAG is a migrant-led community organisation in Coventry. CARAG’s ‘Right 2 A Home’ project started as research into migrant homelessness, and is now leading one of the first migrant-led housing projects for destitute migrants. It has secured further investment, thanks to the MiFriendly seed funding, and now owns its own house, providing safety and stability for five migrants who are considered destitute. You can read CARAG’s project report here.
BME Housing Consortium’s ‘Game of Homes’ project produced a game and information pack containing creative and fun activities to help people learn about their housing rights and obligations, including how to sustain their council or private tenancies. You can read the impact report on Game of Homes here.
Communication, connection and skills
The ‘Families in Conversation’ project by STUWA (Shropshire Telford United Women’s Association – see the STUWA Facebook page here) and Dzenana Masic supported families to talk about mental health and wellbeing. All participants said that the course helped them to enjoy life more. You can read the Families in Conversation impact report here.
Set up by writer and radio host Joshua Mukiibi in Coventry, Emerald Book Club is an online network where people can come together to discuss, learn and share around reading, writing and literature. The project has also delivered radio sessions and online exercise classes. You can read Emerald Book Club’s impact report here and sign up to its newsletter.
The ‘Transitions’ project, run by PITP Ltd (Professional Immigrants’ Transition Platform – find it on LinkedIn) and supported by F’NAN Eritrean Youth and Family Outreach, ran training sessions, inspiration workshops and one-to-one coaching and support to help refugees into education and employment.
You can read more social innovation reports from the MiFriendly Cities Initiative here. It’s also worth noting that the MiFriendly Cities resources will be kept live, including digital guides, briefings and reports to support migrants in their positive and meaningful community work.
Well done to everyone involved in MiFriendly Cities. The West Midlands has the most diverse population outside London, and people born outside the UK play a vital role in our communities. It’s been wonderful to see so many projects welcoming and empowering migrants to lead happy, safe and productive lives here – and we hope their impact continues for many years to come.