The Eastern European Hub
Since 2020 ECP have focused on supporting vulnerable families from a Bulgarian/Roma background. Edmonton is home to this growing community who have struggled to integrate. Our schools have told us that due to language barriers they have found it hard to interact with parents from this community and many of the children have very little English, low attainment and irregular attendance. We have since learnt that following Brexit, high proportions of this group have been unable (and unaware) of how to secure their immigration status and therefore are at risk of becoming illegal, losing access to healthcare, welfare, employment and housing and subsequently at great risk of exploitation and becoming involved in criminal activity.
To address these issues and support this community we have several key partnerships:
The Home Office – since October 2020 we have been one of around 70 grant funded organisations in the UK to support vulnerable EU citizens access the EU Settlement Scheme and secure their status. We work with Settled (a multi-lingual charity with qualified immigration advisors) to support our families as well as circulating and translating information they need.
Enfield Council – The public health and community engagement teams have both identified this community as vulnerable and have been working with organisations, like ECP, to engage these families and support them to access healthcare (including covid vaccines) and to support them with council services including housing. ECP were also invited to sit on the council-run GRT board which is a steering group looking for ways to best support the large gypsy/Roma/traveller communities across the borough.
The National Lottery – In July 2021 we secured significant funding to set up a three-year project to support the community holistically. We have been able to employ a team of staff to run outreach most weekdays and to be based in those schools with the largest Bulgarian populations. We support (and signpost) with issues relating to employment, immigration, welfare, homelessness, health, education and community safety as well as translating documents and attending meetings to ensure their voices are heard. We have attracted several local people wanting to volunteer with us, some of whom have undertaken training and are now employed to support the outreach team.
Outreach: our team works from churches, cafes, libraries, GP surgeries, schools, Pymmes Park visitors centre and different community locations to ensure residents feel comfortable attending. We visit coffee mornings and events at schools and community centres as well as escorting families to local healthcare provision e.g. blood pressure clinics. Word has spread about our outreach support and we are now working closely with the Enfield Council community hubs, social services, early help, local police and Healthwatch. Our team can be contacted by email, phone, Facebook or in-person.
In school: We have 3 members of staff working across 6-7 of our schools. They support families in a similar way as our outreach team but also focusing on school related issues – attendance, understanding additional needs, translating at parents’ evening and other meetings. One of our team is a teaching assistant and supports pupils to catch up with their peers, develop their language skills and support staff who struggle to communicate with them. We also work with small groups of parents and support them to learn English.
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