Just as a warming fire draws people in, Focal Point is a Community Voice Project that brings people from differing cultures together, giving them a voice in the way services are provided and the skills and opportunities to engage with one another and the local community in Merthyr Tydfil.
More than one culture
Focal Point developed out of the Polish Community of the Valleys Association. The members, made up of Welsh and Polish families realised they couldn’t and shouldn’t work in isolation and therefore worked with other organisations to develop Focal Point which supports all newly arrived communities (whether from other countries or other parts of the UK!).
The steering group is made up of 12 committed individuals who choose which services the project consultant should work with. To date we have worked with over 50 organisations.
The project consultant also chairs the Migrant Workers Service Providers Forum which allows a through flow of regular information on needs and solutions.
Learning takes place in a number of ways. We work with others to provide traditional learning opportunities but also use Focus Groups to engage service providers in looking at novel ways of providing services and information. Many providers felt that just having information translated into differing languages was enough, but the community felt that there were other options. Our work with Housing providers, for example, integrates learning opportunities and engaged the community in creating a series of Housing Films that we hope will stop exploitation.
Celebrating life and what binds us is important and so events are a vital part of what we do. From our Multi-Cultural Mikolajki Party which brought 164 people from 7 different nationalities together, to our Multi-cultural Celebration Evenings, our involvement in HMD, or International Friendship Day and our annual Global Village Festival, integration is at the heart of what we do.
Promoting positive stories
At a time where negative aspects of migration are constantly being promoted, Focal Point members work hard to engage the general public in discussions about the positive aspects of migration. Our High Street location and shop window allows us to do that. We regularly have exhibition of work that make people think.
We were very privileged to feature in a BBC Wales documentary about migration to Wales offering a positive image of migration which also featured in the press.
We do all this whilst supporting over 500+ individuals and families.
Dr Lesley Hodgson – Focal Point project consultant
If you want to keep up to date with Focal Point – head over to their Facebook page.