Alleviating poverty, bringing hope

MiJob – ‘Compassionate Support’ for migrants gets off to a great start.

Last year Luton had one of the highest numbers of rough sleepers in the country. But there’s good news for an increasingly vulnerable group who are not eligible for government support. NOAH, in partnership with Luton Borough Council, has won a grant to set up a migrant rough sleeping initiative.

On the 14th September we collected keys for our first two properties on the programme from Luton Community Housing.

Since then we immediately painted and decorated the properties in partnership with a corporate volunteer team from a London based finance firm. Following this we immediately began preparing the properties for occupation and the first excited residents moved in the following day.

The properties now have a total of 5 people living in them each getting intense support to ensure that they complete the programme successfully. On top of this we have supported one person has chosen to return to Romania and another person has already found employment.

The project has been funded by the Department of Communities and Local Government to support those who are unable to receive anything from the public purse. They include a significant number from overseas who struggle to find work, many after being lured here by false promises or even in worst case scenarios, subjected to trafficking.  They subsequently slip into homelessness and destitution.

NOAH have addressed these serious issues on a number of levels – by assisting people into employment though our welfare, training and work experience services; providing suitable temporary accommodation; teaching English; improving access to jobs and not only familiarising clients with UK customs but also helping them reconnect with their country of origin.

NOAH chief executive Jim O’Connor MBE said: “This provides a real opportunity to make a positive difference to those who have migrated to Luton and now find themselves homeless.

“I’m particularly pleased that we and Luton Borough Council have worked so closely and to such effect to secure this contract with Government, which is for the benefit of those among the poorest in our community.”

LBC’s portfolio holder for housing, Cllr Tom Shaw, said: “Many of these individuals have found themselves in difficult circumstances through no fault of their own and with the help of this award we will now be in a position to provide compassionate support.

“We already work hard with those for whom we have a legal responsibility but this grant gives us further opportunity to assist those who have no automatic rights to access public money – whether this means assisting them to be independent contributors to Luton’s exciting investment framework plans or, in some cases, enabling them to consider returning to home and family elsewhere.”

He added that NOAH already had significant experience is various areas, including liaising with relevant housing services in Poland and Romania and working to create more effective reconnections by rekindling family relationships.

He said: “Together we plan to employ staff to provide specific, personal support to those affected.”