A project dedicated to supporting eastern European residents in Scarborough and Ryedale is set to continue until the end of 2023.
‘Pomoc’ was set up as a pilot in July 2020 to ensure the migrant community got the free access to public and voluntary sector services they are entitled to. Many eastern Europeans had previously paid unnecessarily to access these services due to language barriers, lack of knowledge or understanding of how ‘systems’ work, lack of time and lack of confidence.
A group of local organisations, led by Scarborough Borough Council and North Yorkshire County Council and supported by health commissioners came together to provide the Pomoc service, which is operated by Citizens Advice.
Since the pilot began, 260 Romanian, Polish and Latvian residents have been helped with information, advice and signposting to the services they need to enable them to settle and begin to integrate in the Scarborough borough. This includes securing settled or pre-settled status through the EU Settlement Scheme.
Pomoc has also played an important role during the coronavirus pandemic, sharing translated information about what to do during the different stages of restrictions and the importance of testing and vaccination.
Three community groups (Romanian, Polish and Latvian) were initially established through engagement work with schools and parents. The Polish and Romanian groups have since joined together with residents of other nationalities to form the cross-cultural ‘Multi-Kulti’ group. These groups are supported by Pomoc colleagues and have begun to deliver a range of social inclusion and community events.
The pilot period will finish at the end of this year, but an additional £35,000 of funding to help Pomoc operate for another two years from January 2022 has been secured.
North Yorkshire County Council and NHS North Yorkshire Clinical Commissioning Group also funded the pilot and plan to extend their financial commitments by £35,000 and £10,000 respectively.
It is anticipated that demand for the types of support offered during the pilot will reduce in time as the communities become more established and more familiar with the landscape of local services.
Pomoc plans to focus more on community development instead, which will lead to a clearer understanding of the migrant experience in Scarborough and their needs, challenges and aspirations.
An application for government funding of almost £20,000 has been made to the Community Renewal Fund to enable Pomoc to deliver a six month programme of intensive community consultation and engagement with the eastern European community. This will capitalise on the positive links and networks that have been established during the pilot.
Councillor Liz Colling, cabinet member for inclusive growth, said: “I am very proud of the inclusive approach Pomoc has worked hard to promote during the pilot and the excellent service it has provided to eastern Europeans living in the borough.
“There is still lots to do to encourage them to fully integrate with local community life and ensure they are able to access the range of public services available to other residents in the borough.
“That’s why I will recommend to my cabinet colleagues that we continue to finance the service so this vital work can continue without delay.”
Councillor David Chance, North Yorkshire County Council executive member for stronger communities, said: “We are very happy to work with our borough council colleagues on this excellent initiative to help eastern European residents to integrate into the borough’s communities.”
Amanda Bloor, NHS North Yorkshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) accountable officer, said: “Since its launch, Pomoc has provided an excellent service to people from an eastern European background living in Scarborough and the surrounding area and the CCG is delighted to extend our support.
“Through Pomoc, we’ve been able to distribute important health information in a number of eastern European languages, which has helped people who don’t speak English as their first language understand the NHS, and which part of the NHS they should access if they are unwell.
“Importantly, the relationship with Pomoc has helped many eastern European residents to register with a GP practice, ensuring they have access to ongoing care and support if they are living with a long-term condition.
“Throughout the pandemic, Pomoc has also played a valuable role to inform and guide eastern European residents about the different restrictions that have been in place at various times, as well as encourage Covid tests and vaccination.”