GRANT funding for Bridgwater-based Diversity Voice has proved ‘invaluable’ according to its boss.
The organisation champions intercultural integration through initiatives and events, providing support and services that help the inclusion of migrants and incoming workers, in and around Somerset.
In 2018 the group were awarded a grant of £180,000 over three years from the HPC Community Fund, to work with those directly connected with Hinkley Point C (HPC) and the wider community in Sedgemoor and the west of Somerset.
The key aim was to help provide legal and welfare advice, and deliver events and training to bolster intercultural integration and English language support, for migrant workers and their families.
Diversity Voice CEO Tanya Lawler said: “The grant funding from the HPC Community Fund has been invaluable. Over the last year our advice service has been busier than ever, as the communities we represent have been not only disproportionately affected by the pandemic, but many have also had to deal with their obligations under the EU Settlement Scheme.
“Our English lessons and events to promote intercultural understanding have been especially important since Brexit.
Pandemic a huge challenge
“Of course, we’ve only managed to do all this thanks to our close working relationships with our friends in the fantastic voluntary sector in Somerset, including SPARK Somerset, Somerset Diverse Communities, and Citizens Advice among many others.
“Keeping everything going during the pandemic has been a huge challenge for our small team but we’re delighted to have been able to help so many people. We’re really looking forward to meeting everyone face-to-face again, hopefully in the coming year, including at our English club and our drop-in advice service, where support is available in any language.”
Tanya Lawler added: “People are often surprised at the linguistic diversity in Somerset; speakers of over 25 different languages have registered with us in recent years. But language is certainly not the only barrier to opportunity and wellbeing.
“Equally important is how we, as a society, understand each other’s cultures. Community cohesion relies on mutual understanding and as the makeup of our community has changed, there’s been a need to both develop this and ensure opportunities are available for all.
“Thanks to our grant from the HPC Community Fund, we’re here to offer a warm welcome and provide the help needed to ensure that everyone can take advantage of all that Somerset has to offer.”