A report on the needs and strengths of migrant communities in the city will be considered by the council’s Neighbourhoods, Inclusion, Communities & Equalities Committee at a meeting on 22 January.
The ‘International Migrants in Brighton & Hove’ report has been produced by the council to help plan and shape services for the future. An important part of the research was undertaken by trained migrant researchers who were able to reach and obtain the views of members of their communities.
The report says that around 50,000 of the city’s residents were born outside the UK – including more than 7,000 students at the city’s two universities.
They play a big part in contributing to the vibrancy, diversity and economy of the city and make up a significant proportion of the local workforce in, for example, hotels and restaurants, and health and social care.
However, the report goes on to say that challenges faced by all city residents, such as the high cost of housing, can be more acute for migrants, with some unsure about where to go for advice and help. English language skills are very important, and enable people to be part of the local community and to access services.
While the city is generally supportive to migrants and refugees, contributors to the report referred to incidents when people were made to feel less than welcome. And separation from family and friends can lead to some people feeling isolated and distressed, particularly refugees who have fled war in countries like Syria.
For people from EU countries living and working in the city, there is uncertainty about how the implications of the UK leaving the European Union will affect them.
Councillor Emma Daniel, chair of the committee, said: “People from all around the world come to live in Brighton & Hove. Some choose to come to work or study, others to join family members, while others are asylum seekers or refugees fleeing difficult or dangerous situations in their home countries. They add to the rich diversity of the city and are an important part of the city’s workforce and economy.
“The report gives us a more detailed understanding of our communities. It will enable the council and our partners to plan services more effectively and help us to ensure everyone can easily access the advice and services they need. We hope the research will also provide a useful resource for local community groups.”
NHS Brighton & Hove Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), local community and voluntary groups and the city’s two universities, were involved with research for the report, along with migrants living here.
A member of the steering group for the project, Richard Williams, chair of Sanctuary on Sea, said: “By commissioning this study, the council has shown that it takes the needs of its migrant and refugee residents seriously and we hope it will be taken forward with equal vigour.
“Some of the challenges identified, such as housing and the impacts of austerity, go well beyond our migrant population. Some are specific to migrants and refugees and the solutions may well come from within those communities, with the right support.
“But the references to racism and exclusion show that we all have a role to play to ensure that our school, college, place of work, park or club is a place where everyone feels they belong.”
The committee will be recommended to endorse the findings of the report, which includes a number of recommendations to consider in future decision making.
The report is part of the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment programme – a package of needs assessments with different themes carried out by the council and the CCG, aimed at improving the lives of all the city’s communities and reducing inequality.
For more information, including a summary of the report, see the Neighbourhoods, Inclusion, Communities & Equalities Committee papers (agenda item 60).