Photo of Pria Bhabra

Pria Bhabra is a Yorkshire lass, born and bred! She is employed by Leeds City Council and leads on the Migrant Access Project.

Under Pria’s leadership, the project has won a Eurocities Participation Award and this month she was personally Highly Commended in the recent Regulatory Delivery Awards by the Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.

The project started in 2010 as a temporary project with 18 months’ funding. Seven years later, Pria has seen the project mainstreamed and embedded into the work of the Council’s migration agenda.

Year on year, financial savings have led to many Local Authority projects being decommissioned, but not this one!

Who will the initiative help/who has it helped already?

The project’s primary aim is to help reduce pressures on services, helping new arrivals settle in Leeds is a key focus.

Pria may be employed to work on the project, but her passion, understanding, flexibility and can-do attitude has taken the project to new heights.

She has supported many individuals with bringing their community and enterprise ideas to fruition, allowing them to learn from mistakes, giving them open space to share intelligence, and bringing leaders together every week in a diverse setting that hasn’t been seen before.

What’s worked? 

Pria has built relationships with new communities, with services locally, nationally and internationally too – even more important now as we head into Brexit.

The project’s volunteers are now developing their own Migrant Community Network that will allow them to support communities together with independent funding and resources.

This is really exciting and highlights the common goals of communities coming together and integrating following years of weekly discussions.

What have you learnt? Any challenges?

Pria says “The reality of a weekly two hour drop-in is actually a full day of listening and understanding the communities, putting yourself in their shoes. Their enquiries, their views, opinions are far beyond the project’s aim and this is very draining.

It also shows the true extent of what new communities face in a city they call their new home.

The challenge is to educate communities about the role of the council as well as find out what the city has to offer them as they are a voice for their communities.

It is really easy for leaders to not access networks or forums such as this, but this project gives them something that is close to their heart.”

What’s next?

The Migrant Access Project is extending into other areas of the city following successful funding. This will allow sharing good practice and lessons learned.

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