Reading Borough Council Pledges Money to Support Nepalese Community
Many British ex-Gurkhas and their families choose to settle in the UK, and Reading – along with Aldershot and Farnborough – is believed to be one of the UK’s focal points for Nepalese migration. With the ex-Gurkha community successfully acquiring British settlement rights in a high profile campaign, there is expected to be an increase in the number of ex-Gurkhas and their families settling in the UK, and in Reading itself.
Following detailed discussions, the Borough Council and Nepalese Community Leaders in Reading are both keen to work closely together to ensure newcomers to the town are fully integrated, become socially and economically active and that they are able to understand life in the UK.
Reading Borough Council has therefore proposed £45,000 towards three linked projects which together will help to establish a community-led system of support for individuals recently arrived in the UK, and which will eventually help the Nepalese Community to help themselves.
Under the proposal, £25,000 would be passed to the Reading & District Citizens Advice Bureau to provide a series of information sessions in East Reading for Nepalese migrants. Individual advice appointments could be made where necessary and advice materials would be provided in Nepali.
The same pot of money will help fund a Community Advisors training programme, open to young members of the Nepalese Community aged 18 to 30, so that in the future the community can provide help and advice to newcomers themselves. A ‘community coaching’ programme would also be set up aimed at supporting and empowering Nepalese women who would then become community coaches in their own right.
A total of £16,100 will be directed towards Reading Voluntary Action to create the new post of Development Worker for the Nepalese Community. The worker will ensure community members are accessing services and help already available to them and also provide help with things like form filling and taking on an advocacy role with individuals where necessary.
The proposal is also for £3,900 to go directly to the Greater Reading Nepalese Community Association (GRNCA) to rent office space which will enable them establish a local base in East Reading. This could then used by the development worker and local volunteers to provide a focal point for the community, and to access the services they need and to provide a small meeting place.
Jeanette Skeats, Reading’s Lead Councillor for Communities, Voluntary Sector and Enterprise, said: ‘I am delighted that at a time when budgets are under considerable pressure, we are able to extend this key financial support to the Nepalese community here in Reading. The money will provide the necessary kick-start to help the community train up volunteers from within the Nepalese community, who will then be able to carry out this vital support work themselves in future years.’
Krishna Neupane, Vice-Chair of the GRNCA, said: ‘The number of Nepalese citizens living in the Reading area has reached close to five thousand recently. This number is made up of diverse cultural groups, including ex-Gurkhas and their dependants, highly skilled migrants and students. Integrating such a diverse group has been a big challenge which the Greater Nepalese Community Association has had many meetings about with Reading Borough Council officers and councillors.
‘On behalf of the GRNCA I would therefore like to extend our sincere gratitude to the Council for which will be a big help in achieving our aims. I would also like to appeal to all GRNCA members to work together to take part in the training and workshop sessions and to help establish GRNCA as a recognised local charity in Reading area delivering a maximum quality services to its members.’
Gyanraj Rai, spokesman for the Ex-Gurkhas in Reading, added: ‘The retired Gurkhas are very happy that Reading Borough Council has seen fit to find money to assist settling in Reading. The way the money is divided will allow the provision of a focal point for ex-Gurkhas, many who don’t have much English, to get advice where they have no experience of the protocol expected.’