The University of Reading and Reading Community Learning Centre (RCLC) have completed joint research into the needs of ethnic minority women living in Reading. The project was funded by Comic Relief. The findings and final report were presented by the researchers at a packed meeting of statutory and voluntary organisations held at RCLC on 19 July, in the presence of the Mayor of Reading.
The key findings of this study, which involved interviews with 144 women, are that:
– Women from ethnic minorities in Reading are suffering from a vicious cycle of isolation and poor English language skills.
– Learning English and developing cross cultural ties is important for ethnic minority women, and many do not have the means to develop these, leading to isolation in the community.
– Women with the necessary English language skills, who also have social ties, benefit by feeling better in themselves – happier, more confident, and more integrated. These are mutually reinforcing, and the fact that RCLC addresses both of these is of added value.
– The research revealed that different ethnicities tend to struggle with different forms of integration, and it would appear that RCLC is targeting the ethnicities most in need.
The report identifies that a women-specific service for ethnic minorities in Reading has been one way in which RCLC is meeting these needs, providing a space for some of the most vulnerable in the local community. The report also identifies ways in which RCLC can develop its social integration work by collaborating with other organisations and partners, especially involving local volunteers for whom English is their first language, and support the women to develop their future paths into other areas of integration.
The research was led by Associate Professor Sally Lloyd-Evans and Dr Lorna Zischka (Department of Geography and Environmental Science at the University of Reading) and supported by local community researchers from RCLC.