Minister visits East End Somali centre helping migrants integrate

SOMALI community leaders met the Government’s Charities Minister Angela Smith at their new centre in London’s East End this-afternoon. They laid on a spread of traditional Somali fare for her as she sat in on a fire safety talk given with an interpreter

By Linda Lewis

SOMALI community leaders met the Government's Charities Minister Angela Smith at their new centre in London's East End this-afternoon.

They showed her round the centre in Bethnal Green and laid on a spread of traditional Somali fare.

She sat in on a talk about fire safety given with the aid of an interpreter.

Project leaders from the Somali Integration team provide services to Somali women, many of whom had only recently arrived in Britain and speak limited English.

It was Angela Smith's first official visit to a Somali community organisation. She said: "They clearly understand the pressure that members of their community are under."

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The integration team offers translations, mentoring, language classes, keep fit, help with phone calls and job applications. There are also clubs and activities for children and teenage girls.

The minister heard about one Somali woman who had contacted the team for help after being without heating and electricity all weekend.

She hadn't been able to arrange a repair, speaking no English, until the advice centre opened on Monday.