Agenda item


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The Chair welcomed Julie Chaplin from the Hanseatic Union to the meeting to give an outline of the work being carried out with the Ukrainian community and wider migrant community.


Julie explained that the Hanseatic Union was a charity which had been set up 10 years ago to help to address isolation and the non-interaction between the different parts of the community.  The charity decided to put on some activities to bring the communities together and to build up a programme and offer support to help get people into employment.  She added that following meetings with clients, there tended to be a theme of issues and need, and so a project was put together to try and meet that need.


She added that over the 10 years the Hanseatic Union had worked with thousands of different Eastern Europeans, different migrant groups and more recently Ukraine’s, which was how links had been formed with the Council in relation to the Ukrainian Welcome Centre.  Work was also carried out with English people.  She added that Eastern Europeans, migrants and refugees tended to be very isolated.


Julie provided some statistics to the Committee in relation to the areas of work which they covered (January 2023 – January 2024) and explained some of the stories behind the statistics and the challenges faced:


·        Benefits – 309

·        Council Tax - 33

·        Housing - 229

·        Poverty - 245

·        Tribunals – 38


Councillor Rust joined the meeting and took over the Chair.


She explained that in a lot of the cases there was very little that the Charity could do in terms of financial support. 


The Chair thanked Julie for the update and then invited questions / comments from the Committee, a summary of which is provided below:


Councillor Jones asked whether the local Councillor was contacted if someone was having issues, as they might be able to help signpost to the correct department.  Julie explained that she didn’t but would look to do this in the future and share with her colleagues.   One such issue that had arisen was Eastern Europeans being able to vote in the elections.


Councillor Bone asked whether the Hanseatic Union carried out any joined up working with Access.  Julie explained that Access had closed so they had taken on extra work because of that.


The Chair added that other charities were also at risk of closure.


Councillor Colwell asked whether they linked up with the Citizens Advice Bureau?


Julie explained that she had spoken to the Regional Manager, but they worked in different ways.  The HU was about relationship building and giving advice and guidance also came into that but the HU wanted long-term relationships.  In terms of legal advice, she explained that they used Google and Norfolk Community Law, but she was trying to get funding to be able to provide legal advice for their clients, as there was no longer legal aid. 


Councillor Colwell asked whether there was anything further that Norfolk Community Law might be able to assist with as well as the Pandora Project.


Julie explained that they did work with the Pandora Project and explained that the difference between the HU and other organisations was that the staff from the HU was culturally aware with the client group and gave examples.


The Assistant Director advised that they were currently carrying out some work with Norfolk Community Law to try and fill some of the gap that Access left.  He asked if Members were aware of anywhere that they can operate out of in the town centre as they were looking for a premises that they could use for a couple of days a week.


Julie advised that she had two members of staff trained to immigration level 1 to try fill the gap of Access and they were going to be trained to level 2.  They had also been able to employ two of the Access staff on part time contracts and also supported the other Access staff into gaining employment.


Councillor Kemp thanked Julie for the work carried out.  She asked whether clients accessed the Healthy Support Vouchers and the Household Support fund. 


Julie confirmed that they had accessed the food vouchers and explained how that had helped families as it had been used as an engagement tool.


In terms of the Housing Support Fund, she explained that she was probably the biggest referral to it.  She added that isolation was the next target she was working on with a Member of Mark’s team, and explained how she was trying to get people to find each other.


She also advised that work was on-going with addiction and mental health.  She also provided an update on the work they were doing around SEN.


In response to a query from Councillor Mrs Collop, Julie advised that her team did lots of school admissions and school interventions and advised Councillor Collop to refer them to her team.


Councillor Jones referred to the statistics and asked what percentage came from different wards.


Julie advised they were orientated to the schools and a lot of their clients came from North Lynn, a percentage from South Lynn and a large percentage from the middle of town.  She explained that if they found about a new pot of people, they tried to make contact and directed them to services, etc.


The Chair made reference to the Group that had set up a Church and suggested that it might be helpful to introduce them to the Churches Together Group.


The Chair thanked Julie for attending and that the Committee had benefitted from hearing what the Hanseatic Union did.


Julie added that Mark’s team worked alongside them and had been very helpful.