Brighton & Hove has a proud history of welcoming migrants – including refugees from pogroms, workers brought to the UK during the empire, vulnerable families fleeing war zones and Europeans celebrating freedom of movement. Armed conflict, the persecution of minorities, poverty and climate change continue to make Brighton & Hove a safe haven for thousands of people. City Council data suggests around 50,000 residents were born outside the UK and that 1 in 10 households have at least one member who does not speak English.
Since retiring from a career in education, including as a college lecturer, a manager for the City Council and a Department for Education senior funding advisor, I have been a trustee for an adult education centre and a teacher of English to migrants. Learning English is core to education. Without the ability to communicate in English, rights can be lost and barriers to health, housing, education, training, work and the law emerge. Yet for many born outside the UK the need to be understood, and to understand, cannot wait for English classes.
Recently, I have volunteered with organisations supporting refugees, assisting migrants in detention and providing aid to those seeking asylum in the UK. The necessity of interpreting and translation services, combined with mediation, advocacy and education, has become obvious and this is why the work of SIS is essential to so many in Brighton & Hove and why I’m proud to be a trustee for SIS.