A BRIDGWATER charity received an £180,000 grant in 2018 and has spent three years helping the inclusion of migrants and incoming workers in and around Somerset.

Diversity Voice received the funds from the Hinkley Point C (HPC) Community Fund, and they have said the grant has been 'invaluable' over the past three years.

Tanya Lawler, CEO at Diversity Voice, said: "Over the last year our advice service has been busier than ever, as the communities we represent have been not only disproportionately affected by the pandemic, but many have also had to deal with their obligations under the EU Settlement Scheme. Our English lessons and events to promote intercultural understanding have been especially important since Brexit.

“Of course, we’ve only managed to do all this thanks to our close working relationships with our friends in the fantastic voluntary sector in Somerset, including SPARK Somerset, Somerset Diverse Communities, and Citizens Advice among many others.

"People are often surprised at the linguistic diversity in Somerset; speakers of over 25 different languages have registered with us in recent years.

"But language is certainly not the only barrier to opportunity and wellbeing. Equally important is how we, as a society, understand each other’s cultures.

"Community cohesion relies on mutual understanding and as the makeup of our community has changed, there’s been a need to both develop this and ensure opportunities are available for all.

“Thanks to our grant from the HPC Community Fund, we’re here to offer a warm welcome and provide the help needed to ensure that everyone can take advantage of all that Somerset has to offer.”

Their aim has been to help provide legal and welfare advice, and hold events, training and English language support, for migrant workers and their families.

Val Bishop, programmes director at Somerset Community Foundation, who manages the HPC fund said 'it is more important than ever' to support charities such as Diversity Voice due to the increasing loneliness and isolation across communities.

"Diversity Voice, as with other groups Somerset Community Foundation fund, provide both support and connections, which make our wider Somerset communities stronger,” she said.

The HPC Community Fund is part of a wider £20 million commitment of funding, provided by EDF through Section 106 agreements, for communities that are affected by the development of the new nuclear power station, to promote their social, economic and environmental wellbeing and enhance their quality of life.

Andrew Cockroft, senior community relations manager at HPC, said Diversity Voice is providing a 'valuable service' to people and communities across Somerset and they are 'delighted' to be working with the organisation.