Leeds’ black and minority population is the most diverse in the UK outside of London, with over 70 languages spoken. Over 8,000 new migrants arrived in 2010/11, a figure that has doubled since 2001. This is really positive for Leeds, as according to recent research by University College London, migrants have made a net contribution of £25bn to the UK public finances since 2000.
Migrants need English language skills to work, participate in society, training and education and while there are lots of committed people and organisations all over Leeds providing ESOL, the insecurity over funding streams means that ESOL classes come and go, and the sector is fragmented and uncoordinated.
Dr James Simpson, Senior Lecturer, School of Education, University of Leeds, and a member of the MESH steering group said:
"MESH aims to support the coordination adult English language provision in the community sector in Leeds, catering for the needs of the city’s most disadvantaged and marginalised migrants."
"It will benefit potential learners in two ways. Firstly it will enable them, their teachers and those who advise them to locate accessible and appropriate classes of English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) in Leeds. And secondly it will help learners to identify routes for progression from their ESOL classes into work and mainstream education."
Jayne Grant, Interpreting and Translation Team Co-ordinator, Leeds City Council, said:
"Improving their English will help people integrate into the wider community and achieve more from their life in the UK. The online portal will allow service providers to promote ESOL to its customers to improve the lives of customers in Leeds."
How is the project managed?
The MESH project is managed by RETAS (Refugee Education, Training Advice Service) in partnership with other ESOL sector stakeholders in Leeds such as Leeds City Council, the University of Leeds, Leeds Asylum Seekers’ Support Network (LASSN) and provider representatives, and funded by a grant from the Leeds Transition Fund.
The information on this page was supplied by the Doing Good for Leeds website.