Birmingham is a friendly, cosmopolitan city which is proud of the warm welcome it extends to people from all corners of the globe, regardless of their situation. As well as being the most ethnically diverse regional city in the UK with a population made up of 187 different nationalities Birmingham is also a City of Sanctuary, welcoming refugees from war-torn areas, such as Syria. However, the challenges they face when arriving in the West Midlands put them at risk of exploitation as they are twice as likely to be unemployed, have little or no knowledge of public health messages or their rights, so struggle to access services.
There is a community cohesion statement which provides the council’s policy position on integration. There are also a number of neighbourhood offices where immigrants can obtain information, whilst bespoke centers for certain immigrants are provided by the local community i.e. Asian resource centre for people from Indian sub -continent. There are also citizen advice bureaus.
Information is provided on the council’s website, but this is limited in detail and immigrants have no ‘one stop shop’ to access services. The services are fragmented and only available online in English.
In general there is no joined up or digital resource available to immigrants in Birmingham, with newly arrived people reliant on members of their own community to explain access to local services.
EASYRIGHTS SERVICE FOCUS
Service 1: Supporting Migrants to check if their vehicle is compliant for the Clean Air Zone (CAZ)
Description of the service: To raise the awareness of the Clean Air Zone (delayed to January 2021 due to the COVID-19). The Clean Air Zone is an area where the most polluted vehicles will be charged (£8 per day) to enter the zone. If the charge is not paid, a penalty charge notice (£120) will be sent to the person in charge of the vehicle. There are many faith groups within the zone, businesses, shopping centre and the Children’s hospital.
To ensure all migrants understand what the Clean Air Zone is and how to check if their vehicle is compliant.
Service 2: The rights of migrants/hard to reach communities to participate in public consultation
Description of the service: We want migrants to have a say in prioritising services and sharing our vision for Birmingham. This challenge has been identified through other consultations that have taken place and through conversations meetings with NGO’s. BeHeard is the system used by Birmingham City Council to record/store consultations and surveys.
Service 3: Step by step guide to register and complete an online assessment tool to access learning English
Description of the service: Birmingham is a large, diverse city with an extensive range of English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) needs. From the learners’ perspective, information is confusing. Creating one point registration sign in and assessment for all learners in the City will allow for better coordination between providers.
The local authorities which are helping address this challenge are:
The Public Sector: Adult Social Directorate, Prevention, Communities and Migration.
MiFriendly Cities: services include Syrian resettlement scheme, welfare and benefits guidance, employment housing, immigration, new project around asylum seekers.
Public Health: Health campaigns/communications emphasis to further target Black and Minority Ethnic groups and other minority groups.