“When I came to Brighton, I was like a plant pulled from its land, I was afraid people couldn’t understand me, I couldn’t understand them and I didn’t have confidence. In Jordan I had my work, culture, friends, possessions, but here, nothing, we begin from zero, this is very hard for us. MESH made these things easier for me. Now, through the MESH caseworker, things make sense, in Brighton and in general in the UK. Now I know some people, I meet friends, I understand how this system works. I’m starting to stretch my roots into Brighton.”
MESH Client from Jordan
Within Brighton & Hove there are a range of organisations providing ESOL courses (English for Speakers of Other Languages) and delivering other services for migrants. Accessing and navigating these can be difficult for people who are newly arrived in Brighton with limited English.
Our hub - a project with Voices in Exile, known as MESH (the Migrant and ESOL Support Hub) linked these services into a network, designed to be the first point of contact for migrants and help connect them to whatever support was needed. We worked with people on a one-to-one basis and connected them with the right support as soon as possible, helping people achieve their aims in relation to education, employment, volunteering and integration into the life of the city, as well as referrals for other support around housing, money, health and wellbeing.
From April 2019 until March 2021 MESH supported over 80 clients. Here are the words of just a few of them:
MESH Client from Syria
“I arrived in Brighton 6 months ago. […Cicely] is very kind with us, help my family. If we have problems, she helps my family, especially finding the flat for my husband. He said it was his best day in the UK when he got the flat.”
MESH Client from Iran
“MESH has shown me how to use a local Facebook page to advertise my carpentry and plumbing skills, and has given me the tools. […]MESH has given me 2 bicycles, the first one was stolen. I can ride around the city safely, visit friends, take exercise and do shopping by bike.”
MESH Client from Iran
In the second year of the programme, the Covid-19 pandemic had a drastic effect on the clients. Courses and opportunities suddenly ceased and clients were left very isolated. MESH responded by setting up a variety of online activities to help clients continue their learning and make connections.
When the Covid restrictions eased these online activities transformed into some amazing outdoor projects including Adventures in English (walking tours of Brighton with English practice) and Brighton Multicultural Women’s Cycle Club.
Sadly the MESH project ended in March 2021 -- despite the acute need for this work -- but we are delighted to announce that a new project funded by the Department of Work and Pensions will provide employability support for people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities in the autumn.
For more details of the schemes mentioned contact [email protected]
“I want to say Thank you so much to everybody I met for everything. Life is very difficult as an asylum seeker, I hope I can stay in Brighton and bring my family.”
MESH Client from Egypt
“Cicely showed me that Brighton people have more love for different kinds of people, different nationalities, I didn’t know that.”
MESH Client from Turkey