How is a €4m award for ‘MiFriendly Cities’ project going to transform Coventry?

Europe is investing over four million euros in three West Midlands cities to help the region’s communities get the maximum benefit from migration and assist refugees and migrants to feel more welcome and valued.

‘MiFriendly Cities’ project is a three-year programme of activities, which has been awarded a funding totalling €4,280,640 from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

The lucky cities are: Coventry, Birmingham and Wolverhampton.

There has been a proposal for the project to build a new hub in Coventry, where not only newcomers to the region but also city residents could get involved in the community and social enterprise projects.

Coventry City Council also says that ‘MiFriendly Cities’ project has planned other activities and initiatives as well to address urban challenges in the city. Some of them include:

  1. Weekly mobile employment information drop-in sessions for locals and migrant communities, held in the most deprived areas of each city.
  2. Regular language classes delivered with the support of student volunteers from the cities’ universities;
  3. ‘Fair recruitment’ agency to support employment for the wider community, with a focus on migrants and refugees;
  4. £70,000 social enterprise fund to support 16 migrant and refugee start-ups with investment and mentorship;
  5. Specific work to promote rights awareness and undertake legal health checks among migrants and refugees, with a focus on paths to citizenship for children and young people;
  6. Training over 100 refugees and migrants as citizen journalists and citizen scientists to engage with the media, share their stories, and help evaluate the MiFriendly Cities initiative.

There will be 11 partners leading this project from Coventry City Council: Coventry University, Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre (CRMC), The Refugee and Migrant Centre Black Country in Birmingham (RMC), Migrant Voice and Interserve, Migration Work, Central England Law Centre (CELC) and the three city councils.

As West Midlands is the most diverse regions in the UK outside London, with over 100 languages spoken a day within its borders, the project makes a crucial difference to the cities.

The Deputy Council Leader and Cabinet Member for Policing and Equalities CIIr Abdul Khan said:

“Coventry has a long and proud history of opening its arms and welcoming people who choose to make the city their home. I’m delighted with this award and I’m excited about the projects it will help deliver not just in Coventry but across the West Midlands. The MiFriendly Cities project recognises the valuable contribution refugees and migrants make to our communities and how we can all benefit from their integration.”

We have done a research about the Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre and the work they do there. It turns around that they don’t only offer shelter and help for the migrants and the refugees but they also teach them in English- starting from the alphabet and to full sentences. They also help them to find a job. The people who work there are not only professional, there are many volunteers which are from different cultures. The most important thing is that anyone can give them a call and volunteer for a job. There isn’t a specific age that they require so everyone can join.

Hristiyana Hristova


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