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Wonder Foundation welcomes the new Integration Green Paper

Flora Chik

Since September 2015, Wonder has been working for policymakers to recognise the barriers that vulnerable female migrants face in learning English in the UK and, from our work in this area, we became more aware of the wider challenges to integration that these women and girls face.

We welcome the Integration Green Paper, in particular the recognition that: 

  • Positive, meaningful interaction breaks down mistrust and suspicion between groups and that when people meet and mix under the right circumstances, trust grows and prejudice declines. Our Knowing Me, Knowing You project has engaged young people in these ideas, and their proposals for creating opportunities for meaningful interaction can be found here.
  • Integration is not assimilation. We want everyone to feel confident and proud of their identity and heritage. We want everyone to take advantage of the opportunities that Britain offers – especially women and girls who are too often denied these chances – while recognising and valuing their relationship with, and responsibility to, other groups and to our wider society. Watch Sagal and Rachel discuss this here.  
  • Some voices are too seldom heard, especially those of women and young people, and that the real leaders - “changemakers” - are not always those in positions of authority. Indeed, some of the people who influence others by example and bring about change would not identify themselves as leaders. This was one of the reasons that we conducted our 2016 research report, “Women Breaking the English Barrier”
  • With improved levels of English, people will be less vulnerable to isolation and loneliness and can build their confidence to speak up for themselves. Women have told us clearly that this is important to them. They want to be empowered to make informed decisions about their own lives and speaking the local language enables them to do this. Our FATIMA project is giving women this opportunity.  
  • Opportunities to learn English need to be tailored to meet the different needs of this diverse group of learners, with different motivations, starting points and levels of confidence. FATIMA also shows that vulnerable learners need individualised and integrated support. 
  • Community- based English language provision participants… scored significantly higher on both language proficiency and social integration outcomes than those who had not yet attended. We have been asking for recognition of the benefits to women of having social spaces within the context of language learning. The Baytree Centre embeds this in all of their projects.  
  • Community hubs provide a vital location for physical, face-to-face social mixing outside workplaces, schools and homes. This helps to address loneliness, break down barriers and improve trust between people from different backgrounds and with different life experiences. Our young people involved in Knowing Me, Knowing You, came up with a similar idea as part of their policy development initiative.  
  • There should be a new strategy for English Language in England. Wonder Foundation has been delighted to work with NATECLA and others to develop a strategy proposal.  

Wonder Foundation has made a submission to the consultation, which you can read here.