New Communities

Learning disability among new communities in Coventry Clare Wightman

New Communities
Learning disability among new communities in Coventry.

Clare Wightman | 2012

Clare Wightman
Clare Wightman is Director of Grapevine. She is interested in how we can enable people with learning disabilities to be more fully included in their communities. Grapevine is a partner in a national project with the Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities, which is examining ways of achieving inclusion for people with high support needs. She is the author of Community in Personalisation and Learning Disabilities (Tyson 2011). Clare believes that building community with and for people is crucial to successful advocacy.

Background information


What are the new communities in Coventry? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
Countries of origin
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Size . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Number of young people from new communities
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What is known of the incidence of learning disability among young people from Coventry’s new communities? What do we know of the issues they face?
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learning disability among new communities in coventry


learning disability among new communities in coventry

Background information
Grapevine (Coventry and Warwickshire) is an organisation that supports people with learning disabilities and their carers, in the Coventry area. Its purpose is to reduce the isolation and segregation experienced by people with learning disabilities and their families, so they can lead safer lives with greater prospects. Grapevine has a broad work programme that includes different types of advocacy and other forms of support, including support to young people with learning disabilities from ethnic minority communities.
For several years, Grapevine has been helping young people and their families to plan for the transition from school to adult life. This planning and advocacy work was extended to include support to use personal budgets, with the help of funding from the Equality and Human Rights Commission during 2009-2011. This report is written at the request of the EHRC to begin to assess the extent of need for advocacy among young learning disabled people from new communities in Coventry.


learning disability among new communities in coventry

What are the new communities in Coventry?
Countries of origin
Coventry Partnership’s Community Cohesion Strategy 2010-2015 says newer communities that have settled in Coventry in the last ten years include Somalian, Kurdish, Afghani and Iraqi groups. There are currently approximately 100 languages spoken in Coventry with Bengali, Polish, French, Kurdish and Panjabi being the top five languages receiving interpreting services. In the experience of Coventry’s Refugee Centre new community members come from East African countries such as Somalia, Zimbabwe, Congo and Rwanda, the Middle East: Iran, Iraq (Kurds) and Afghanistan, Eastern Europe: Lithuanian, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Romania and former USSR countries. Of EU migrants Poland is the main source. A key difference noted by the centre’s Director is that Polish migrants are likely to return home but for migrants from other areas their confidence in the value of returning home is much lower. Coventry Friend provided a drop in service for refugees whose records show use by people from 33 different countries of origin. The largest single groups are from Poland and Somalia with the next largest groups Eastern Europe and from Middle East.

The Community Cohesion Strategy 2010-2015 turns to 2001 census data to estimate the proportion of Coventry’s population that could be said to be from a new or ‘newer’ community. The strategy uses the number of Coventry residents listed as born outside the UK in 2001 census data. According to that source, 13% of Coventry residents were born outside the UK with 3.9% or 11,627 people born elsewhere in the European Union, most from the Republic of Ireland, although since 2001 migration will have increased the number of people born in other parts of the EU such as Poland.


learning disability among new communities in coventry

ONS data in 2010 however shows just under a fifth of the residents in Coventry were born outside the UK. This is a relatively high proportion when compared with the national rate (11.8%) or the rate in the West Midlands region (10.2%). Estimates of the proportion of non-British nationals in Coventry show growth from 10% in 2004 to 15% in 2008 and a slight decline to 13.1% in 2010. Once again the proportion in Coventry is almost double the national rate. This group may also include settled immigrants. Another proxy used to estimate immigrant population is the flag 4 GP registration indicator. This captures economically inactive immigrants and dependants and relatively recent arrivals. According to these figures 2.5% of residents who registered with a GP in Coventry in 2010 had previously resided outside the UK for a period longer than three months. This is more than double the national rate and three times the regional rate. These figures also show a steady increase since 2004. The most recent schools census shows that proportion of children whose first language is other than English in Coventry is 27.7% in state funded primary schools and 23.1% in state funded secondary schools. The schools census also provides the ethnic composition of the pupil population. According to this, 40% of Coventry pupils in state funded primary schools and 35% of pupils in state funded secondary schools are recorded as not White-British.


learning disability among new communities in coventry

Taken together, this information demonstrates that Coventry is likely to have a significant number of young migrants and or refugees. People do not necessarily have to be recently arrived to be classed as a member of a new community. Afghans constitute a new community in Coventry but some Afghans have been here for 10 years or more.

Number of young people from new communities
It has not been possible to uncover the number of young people from new communities, broadly defined in Coventry. In terms of refugee groups among new communities the usual pattern is for men to arrive first and families to follow, if at all. The City Council’s Minority Groups Support Service collects data to show the numbers and ethnic groupings of recently arrived pupils. The data for 2011/12 shows that the largest ethnic groupings were white other (32%), Black African (21%) and White Gypsy Roma (16%). Just over half of these were EU citizens and only 12% were refugees and asylum seekers. There are 10 school aged asylum seekers in Coventry today. MGSS report a drop in the number of unaccompanied teenagers. The rising trend from 2001 of pupils who are refugees and asylum seekers appeared to have plateau-ed since 2008/9

What is known of the incidence of learning disability among young people from Coventry’s new communities?
Data held by city council’s Minority Groups Support Service in relation to new communities does not include information related to special needs/ learning disabilities unless parents/guardians have alerted an MGSS Settlement Officer during the course of the pre-school admission meeting. Where that does occur information is passed to the Special Educational Needs Team. Many special needs disabilities, particularly those not readily recognised in the country of origin, will not be identified by a UK school until the child has been in attendance for a reasonable period of time. The data held by the Special Educational Needs team is the best indicator


learning disability among new communities in coventry

of incidence. Schools data is collected according to ethnicity and or language spoken not country of origin, nor recency of arrival. Information provided by the data team at the Children Learning and Young People’s Partnership (CLYP) based on the DfE school census of 2010 shows highest incidence among three ethnicities: Pakistani, Somali and Polish. 329 children from a Pakistani background were statemented or at School Action Plus stage. 103 of these have a moderate learning disability and a further 20 have a severe learning disability. Their ethnicity though does not necessarily indicate that they are members of a new community. The next largest ethnic grouping is Polish. Of 53 pupils in this category 17 have a moderate learning disability and 11 a severe learning disability. Of 45 Somali pupils 16 had a moderate learning disability and 9 had a severe learning disability. MGSS reports that the numbers of Somali pupils has fallen in 2011-12 however. Most pupil numbers in remaining groups with a learning disability were less than10 with two exceptions. Of 25 Arabic and 30 Tamil pupils 11 each were moderately learning disabled and 2 each had a severe learning disability.


learning disability among new communities in coventry

Information provided by the data team at the Children Learning and Young People’s Partnership (CLYP) based on the DfE school census of 2012 shows a different picture. The highest incidence of moderate learning disability is Black African (119) closely followed by Pakistani (118), other white (56 – 23 of whom speak Polish) and then Gypsy Roma (19). Among those with a severe learning disability the largest groups are Pakistani (26) and Black African (18) and for profound and multiple the same groups dominate Black African (16) and Pakistani (13)

What do we know of the issues they face?
The new communities our project have worked with are: Creole, Somali and Romani. We found families facing the same barriers to service take up as established BME groups plus specific attitude barriers around their culture, country of origin, as well as the impact of significant poverty and inequality. In particular, the Roma, mainly clustered in the Hillfields and Foleshill areas of the city, are experiencing significant inequality. There is concern that many of these families are living in extreme poverty, in substandard and overcrowded housing and not accessing health care. All benefits for a significant number of the Czech Slovak Roma community within the City were stopped causing emergency destitution. Also, at the same time, there was an increase in the number of reported hate crimes against the communities as a whole and an undercurrent of community tension.

MGSS Data of Gypsy Roma Students in Coventry Schools
Date 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 Gypsy/Roma students 19 72 103 178 208 220

The table above shows the year on year increase in the number of pupils that ascribe as Gypsy Roma in Coventry schools. It is not known how many of these young people have a learning disability.


learning disability among new communities in coventry

In 2008, Coventry Law Centre commissioned the Centre for Rights, Equality and Diversity at the University of Warwick to undertake some research entitled “Barriers to seeking advice: New Communities in Coventry and their experiences of frontline advice services”. This research showed that many people in new communities do not access mainstream advice services. Grapevine’s All means all project also found that mainstream support, advice and advocacy services were not reaching those from new communities. As we became a known and trusted face and engagement deepened, we often had to work with the whole family and its issues not simply the young person with a learning disability. We have provided extensive support to advocate at meetings, given guidance on rights and entitlements as well as specific language support for a range of needs which have included registering a new born child, accessing housing advice and services, support to make and keep hospital appointments and help to engage with school, and communicate with support agencies. Families seemed to prefer to have a single worker with multiple skills or roles to multiple workers with single roles. What would help families and young people with a learning disability get the help they need? Coventry’s settlement officers employed through MGSS can be a source of timely referral with the person or family’s written consent. They can also provide some support and facilitation to connect with a family. MGSS has a full-time Roma speaking teacher, a full-time Roma outreach worker as well as two part-time Roma outreach workers and a multilingual education assistant. Many families, especially those with the most complex issues like those from new communities, need help with additional things like benefits, translation, understanding documents, housing support, advice on education and referrals to city council departments. Families tend to prefer to get this help from one source (a trusted worker) rather than from several. In the absence of other trusted


learning disability among new communities in coventry

or appropriate services it may be down to a single worker to help with whatever problems are presented. It is not enough to simply signpost. We have had to be able to address these other areas of unmet need. Our experience suggests two things would help: the time and flexibility to get to the root of complex problems and the opportunity to develop trusted relationships more ‘networked’ delivery in other words agencies connecting services into a single offering which is seamless to the recipient and plays to each agencies’ strengths


Grapevine, 123 Upper Spon Street Spon End, Coventry, CV1 3BQ Tel: 024 7663 1040 Email: admin@grapevinecoventry andwarwickshire .co .uk Web: www .grapevinecovandwarks .org Twitter: @grapevinecov Facebook: Grapevine Cov and Warks

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