Our Community, Our Future – a social integration programme for Blackburn with Darwen
Blackburn with Darwen is one of five national Integration Areas invited by the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) to work closely with them on innovative plans to address social integration. The borough was selected because of its strong track record for building bridges between diverse communities and its willingness to try new approaches.
MHCLG is funding a three year programme in Blackburn with Darwen that aims to boost the borough’s economic prosperity and build stronger, more integrated communities.
This work is an important priority for the Council and we have worked with a wide range of local partners to develop Blackburn with Darwen’s social integration programme – called Our Community, Our Future.
The Our Community, Our Future strategy sets out how these partners will work together to strengthen relationships between people from different backgrounds, to help the borough become a place where diversity is valued, and where people’s faith and cultures are understood and respected.
The strategy has three priorities for making our borough stronger:
- To increase economic prosperity for all the borough’s communities as an essential prerequisite for social integration
- To strengthen relationships between the borough’s diverse communities
- To build connections and strengthen relationships between young people who live in the borough’s diverse communities
Delivered by the BwD Strategic Youth Alliance, this project supports young people to develop the skills they need to become leaders in their local communities and work with others on social action projects that make their areas better places to live. During 2021/22, a total of 18 different groups will take place, delivered by the various partners in the Strategic Youth Alliance.
Similar to the Youth Ambassador programme, but for adults, this project is delivered through Spring North, working with Blackburn Rovers Community Trust. Already, in 2019/20, 84 local people completed the accredited Community Ambassadors programme. Many of them have gone on to set up constituted groups or local community projects, working with others for the benefit of everyone who lives in Blackburn with Darwen.
Workforce Integration Ambassadors
Blackburn College leads on our Workforce Integration Ambassador programme, supporting local employers to recruit and retain more diverse workforces, to encourage social mixing at work.
Learning English Together
Our Learning English Together programme brings together local providers of ESOL classes (English for Speakers of Other Languages) to make it easier for learners to find the right class for them.
Residents who need to improve their English can use the Learning English Together website to arrange an assessment and find classes at a time and in a venue that suits them.
Projects are underway and there are lots of opportunities for local people to get involved.
The Youth Ambassadors programme, delivered by the Strategic Youth Alliance, will equip young people with the skills they need to become leaders in their local communities and empower them to work with others to set up positive social action projects that make their neighbourhoods better places to live. A similar programme is being offered to adults through the Families Health & Wellbeing Consortium.
Community Voices and Youth Voices events will give people across the borough an opportunity to take part in discussions that help to break down any barriers between people from diverse backgrounds. With plenty of experience in facilitating such conversations, the Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Peace Foundation will run these events in Blackburn with Darwen, ensuring that everyone who takes part gains something from the experience.
Blackburn College is another partner in the programme, delivering two projects that aim to help our employers encourage more diversity in their workplaces. A group of Workforce Ambassadors are being trained in supporting their employers in this goal, and there will be training placements and apprenticeships available too.
There’s so much more planned, including more opportunities for schools to form links with others in different areas, and a study of transport links to help connect people to zones of employment and leisure beyond their immediate neighbourhoods. The teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) will become more co-ordinated across the borough through our ESOL Hub, with a number of partners working collaboratively.
To get involved in any Our Community, Our Future projects, contact us
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