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This project is co-funded by the European Commission. This publication reflects the views of the author only and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use of the information contained therein.

Supported by the DI-XL project related with the dissemination and exploitation of LLP results through libraries

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On 3-5 June 2013 participants of the METIKOS project visited Leeds in the UK. METIKOS focuses on developing methodologies and informal language learning techniques for migrants across Europe.

Partners from Greece, Spain, Germany, France, Italy and the UK met to discuss the progress of the project, with an introductory session at RETAS - the Refugee Education Training Advice Service. Chris Brooks (Director) began by briefing visitors on how RETAS provides integration activities for refugees and asylum seekers in Leeds and West Yorkshire.

The group then visited Leeds City Council, meeting Rachael Loftus from Leeds City Council’s Migration Partnership, and Rose McCarthy from the Refugee Council. A lively discussion took place on issues such as migration patterns to Leeds, asylum seeker destitution and strategic approaches to working with migration. The group also learnt about City of Sanctuary, a national movement committed to encouraging cities to become more welcoming towards migrants.

This was followed by a visit to ‘Meeting Point’, a charity which supports refugees and asylum seekers living in Leeds. Meeting Point has been hosting a language café (one of the models presented by the METIKOS project); this has enabled English Language speakers from the host community to mix with asylum seekers to help the development of informal conversational English. Hosting the Language Café in a safe and welcoming environment allows people to relax and learn English at their own pace and discuss common issues or interests. The group found the Meeting Point visit extremely engaging and thought provoking, with much discussion between the European visitors and the asylum seekers who were present.

On the second day of the visit, the majority of the day took place at SHINE Business Centre, a centre set up in Harehills, Leeds (one of the most deprived areas of the UK) to encourage local business and entrepreneurship. Partners heard from Bibi – who had been taking part in another learning technique called ‘Tandem’, which pairs people to exchange languages. Bibi has been learning Amharic, with her Ethiopian partner learning English.

All partners enjoyed the visit greatly, it proved an excellent opportunity not just to discuss project activity and progress, but to also learn about migration issues in Leeds and the UK.