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Project holds community event to get Coventry involved

Coventry is one of three local authorities from the West Midlands who have come together to deliver the MiFriendly Cities project, a three-year initiative which is testing new ways to help the region achieve the maximum benefit from migration, whilst also aiming to improve migrants’ and refugees’ sense of belonging.

The event – held jointly with Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre (CRMC) at the Coventry Jesus Centre – showcased how MiFriendly Cities will collect the best ideas from across the EU to develop innovative, community-led and sustainable approaches to facilitate the contribution of migrants to our wider communities.

Along with Birmingham and Wolverhampton, Coventry hopes to achieve ‘Migration Friendly’ status by working in areas identified as key to building inclusivity, including jobs, skills, active citizenship, social enterprise and long-term community infrastructure.

Director of Public Health and Wellbeing, Liz Gaulton, said: ‘’The Council has played a huge role in the receipt of this funding, and leading on this project shows how committed we are to embracing diversity and improving the quality of life for all Coventry residents.’’

Sunairah Miraj, Programme Delivery Manager for Migration and MiFriendly Cities Project Co-ordinator at the Council kicked off the session, offering an insight into why being ‘MiFriendly’ is important for the city.

She said: ‘’This project is about making the most of the diversity we have in this city and in this region. By working together to unlock the skills of refugees and migrants in our region and build bridges between communities and strengthen the economic and social fabric of both Coventry and the West Midlands.’’

Guest speaker, McDonald’s Franchisee John Kiely, talked about his work with local organisations CRMC and Positive Youth Foundation (PYF), to support everyone, migrant or not, into employment.

He said: ‘’It’s about employing people who can make a difference, who have skills and can contribute, and the refugees and migrants we work with do.

‘’We want to take on people who will not only make a difference to our business, but we want to make a difference to their lives too – we can help them talk to an employer and help get them through the door.’’

It is hoped that the project will encourage employers across the region to become more ‘Migration Friendly’ through establishing business forums, providing useful resources, and creating mentoring support programmes for work placements and apprenticeships.

Project partners from Coventry University, CU Social Enterprise and Migrant Voice also spoke at the event, sharing opportunities for refugees and migrants to join the project to develop an innovative business idea, become a community researcher or learn new skills in digital fabrication, journalism and research.

The West Midlands Combined Authority-backed project received its €4m funding from the EU’s Urban Innovative Actions fund in October 2018, and brings together 11 partner organisations, including the three city councils, a multinational company, a university, a law centre, a consultancy and three migrant-run charities.

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European Union & Urban Innovative Actions

This project is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund through the Urban Innovative Actions Initiative.