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Derby Community Groups Receive Funding To Support Hong Kong Bn(O) Visa Holders

Community groups across the East Midlands have received funds to bolster their support for Hong Kong BN(O)s, including English Language classes, employability skills, and wellbeing support.

As the regional HKBNO Welcome Hub, East Midlands Councils has provided small grants to three community Groups across Derby and Nottingham using funding from the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

Since the HKBN(O) visa was introduced in January 2021, there has been approximately 5,000 Hong Kong migrants choosing to make the East Midlands their home, many of whom have chosen to lay down roots in Derby.

Funding was provided to Derbyshire Hong Kong Community Interest Company, Hong Kong Renew Café in Derby, and Belong Nottingham, to help increase their support for Hongkongers in their respective communities.

Derbyshire Hong Kong Community Interest Company

East Midlands Councils provided Derbyshire Hong Kong CIC with funds to continue its English Conversation Club, a set of courses which run from four to six weeks offering support for different levels of English language.

Jeff from Derby CIC said: “The funding from East Midlands Councils has allowed us to expand our English Conversations Club. We now offer beginner, intermediate and advanced courses.

“These courses run for six weeks for beginners and four weeks for the advanced and intermediate courses.

“These clubs help to develop conversation and listening skills. One of the biggest barriers for people arriving into the UK is daily conversations to make doctors and dentist appointments, in shops and cafes, speaking with neighbours and other parents at the school gates.”

Hong Kong Renew Café

The Hong Kong Renew Café in Derby started in July 2022 and is run by a team of Hongkongers who came to the UK under the BN(O) visa. The cafe is part of a wider group of Renew Wellbeing cafés.

Sharon Shek from the Hong Kong Renew Café in Derby said: “Moving to the UK can be hard for people, especially after the pandemic and political unrest, which is why looking after their mental health is so important. The Café is open from 12 to 4 every Thursday with games, activities and an opportunity to talk to each other about life and experiences.

“But we’ve found that the support goes far beyond that. When we connect Hongkongers in the community, they build new friendships, support one another by looking after each other’s families, take courses together and watch out for one another.

“The support we have received from East Midlands Councils allows us to continue our work supporting Hongkongers in the community.”

Belong Nottingham

Founded in 2001, Belong Nottingham has been supporting refugees and asylum seekers in the region for over 20 years through employability and wellbeing support, as well as English Language classes.

Rosie Fisher, Learning Manager at Belong Nottingham, said: “The small grant we received from East Midlands Councils has allowed us to provide support to this new community of Hongkongers.

“Through this funding, we’ve been able to provide dedicated support via English language classes and employability workshops, as well as translate supportive literature into Cantonese.”

Stuart Young, Executive Director of East Midlands Councils, said: “Three years have passed since the first HKBNO visas were issued, and over that time, East Midlands Councils and our Strategic Migration Partnership have been working hard to address any barriers that may be faced by Hongkongers in our communities.

“From launching our East Midlands Welcome Hub, to hosting events and providing opportunities with our partners across the East Midlands, we’ve assisted hundreds of Hongkongers in making this fantastic region their home.

“The work that we’ve done is in no small part thanks to our partners from across the region, including grassroots voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations who offer day to day support for the HKBNO community.”