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Engagement & Integration Officers help make a stronger borough

Published Friday 19 July 2019 at 11:39

A new team of community development workers is setting out to help make Blackburn with Darwen a stronger borough.

An important part of the borough’s Our Community, Our Future social integration strategy, the Engagement & Integration Officers are helping to connect people and communities to activities that support our integration goals for the borough.

Blackburn with Darwen is one of five national Integration Areas, places working closely with the Ministry for Housing, Communities & Local Government on a programme to address social integration challenges through innovation.

The six-strong Engagement & Integration Officer team has an important role out in the community, to help even the most hard to reach residents take part in activities that aim to break down any barriers between themselves and others from backgrounds different to their own.

Each member of the team is assigned to an area of the borough:

  • Blackburn North – Faranisa Sharif
  • Blackburn East – Mariyam Emam
  • Blackburn West – Chrissie Spencer
  • Blackburn Town Centre – Hajra Sidat
  • Darwen Town Centre – Lara Lowe
  • Darwen & Rural – Kelvin Sole

They will also work together in pairs to support activities across three key themes – community development, young people and schools linking – to help individuals and groups from different parts of the borough make connections.

Between them, the Engagement & Integration Officers have decades of community development experience and a wide variety of skills built up working in early years, schools, youth work, community safety, mediation and leisure.  They also bring to their new roles fresh ideas of ways to bring people together through shared interests.

Working with a variety of agencies supporting integration work in Blackburn with Darwen, they will build on the borough’s strengths, recognised by the Ministry for Housing, Communities & Local Government in its Integrated Communities Strategy.

Councillor Mohammed Khan, Leader of Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, said:

These new roles have a key part to play in our social integration plans, connecting the people of Blackburn with Darwen to opportunities to get involved in the Our Community, Our Future programme. Over time they will become embedded in the neighbourhoods in which they work, building important relationships with individuals and a wide variety of agencies and our delivery partners to help people understand how integration is Blackburn with Darwen is everyone’s business.

There’s already lots happening across the borough for local people to get involved in:

  • Community Voices events encouraging residents to speak up on the issues that matter to them are taking place, run the Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Peace Foundation
  • Youth Ambassadors programmes are running to equip 12 to 16 year olds with the skills and capabilities to lead projects in their local areas to bring people together, led by the BwD Strategic Youth Alliance
  • Workforce Integration Ambassadors are receiving training through Blackburn College, to help the borough’s employers attract a retain a diverse workforce.

To find out how you can get involved in Our Community, Our Future, call the social integration team on 01254 304597 or email integration@blackburn.gov.uk.

You can read more about Blackburn with Darwen’s social integration strategy on the Council’s new website: www.blackburn.gov.uk/about-council/social-integration.

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