Council wins £240,000 to tackle language barriers and boost health

Work to improve the health and wellbeing of disadvantaged people by breaking down language barriers has been boosted by a £240,000 government grant.

Kingston Council and Kingston College have set up a project which aims to reduce health inequalities amongst the most deprived sections of the community by giving them the language skills they need to properly access essential services and integrate better into borough life.

The council has secured European Integration Fund support from the Home Office for the scheme.

Newly arrived women as well as young migrants to the borough will be taught English and given lessons in local heritage and culture to overcome communication problems which prevent people accessing health and other services they need.

The project is also aimed at Kingston’s large Korean community.

The council has appointed its first Korean Link Worker who will bridge the gap between the community and service providers so that people are aware of the help available to them. Volunteer mentors from within the community will be recruited and trained to give extra support.

“Tackling language barriers is vital for our communities and important for so many isolated and vulnerable people locally, particularly for women and young people who can’t speak English and don’t know how or where to get help.

“This project will give people independence in accessing health and other services, improving their health, becoming more integrated with the wider community and helping them to get on in life - all important aspects of their general wellbeing.”

Councillor Liz Green, Leader of Kingston Council

“Improving levels of health literacy in such an engaging way helps both individuals and communities to better understand and improve their health prospects and life chances. By breaking down language barriers this project will play a vital role in improving assimilation and reducing what are avoidable differences in health and wellbeing between groups in Kingston.”

Russell Styles, Kingston’s Associate Director of Public Health

“The project allows young migrants a wonderful opportunity to learn English whilst also researching the history and culture of Kingston upon Thames. The staff and students at Kingston College are delighted that the project has been given the go-ahead and we are really excited about developing the citizenship resources about local heritage.”

Scott Peasey, Head of School, Foundation and Intermediate Learning at Kingston College

For more information about our Equalities and Community Engagement Team and our work to identify and address health inequalities, see Community health action.