University funding for north east Fife 'Conversational Cafe'

A new project led by the Fife Migrants Forum, which aims to combat loneliness and promote mental health and wellbeing, has received a welcome funding boost from the University of St Andrews Community Fund.

Wednesday, 2nd June 2021, 1:02 pm
The University of St Andrews.

The Fife Migrants Forum will establish the first Conversational Café in north east Fife specifically for migrant communities, supported by a £3000 donation from the university’s Community Fund. The Conversational Café will provide advice and guidance to individuals as well as an informal opportunity for migrant community members to come together to make new friends in a relaxed atmosphere.

Designed to support refugee groups, Roma people and seasonal workers, the Conversational Café will work in partnership with the University of St Andrews student-led Refugee Action St Andrews (RASA) group and community partners from Cupar to enable members to keep in touch, create social support networks and practice, and gain confidence in English.

The Conversational Café will be managed by Fife Migrants Forum staff and volunteers with a teaching background. The Café format will provide people with access to information and signposting on how to access further education and employment opportunities, as well as providing advice and support to prevent poverty and increase access to local support services.

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The Conversational Café will recreate the success of similar projects that have taken place throughout the UK and expand on existing Café projects by the Migrants Forum elsewhere in Fife. The Conversational Cafés are influential in effecting change with many migrants and those in local communities through helping people to integrate, contribute to and build more cohesive communities. On an individual level, participants can develop friendships that cross communities, gain confidence, avoid isolation, and improve their mental health and wellbeing.

Billy Lynch, manager of the Fife Migrants Forum, said: “We are delighted to receive a donation from the University’s Community Fund and with it the opportunity to expand our services to those who need it the most. We have previously centred our Conversational Café approach to Kirkcaldy and Central Fife, but it has always been our ambition to expand this to north east Fife where there are many migrants living.

“The Conversational Café is a means for reducing isolation, encouraging cohesion and integration, and generally enabling access to opportunity and education. This donation allows us to further expand our overall aim to ensure that Fife is a place where both migrants and local people can celebrate their diversity in a welcoming and safe environment, as well as alleviate the poverty that many migrants experience.”

Professor Brad McKay, vice-principal (International Strategy and External Relations), at the University of St Andrews, said: “The university recognises the important role that migrants play in making Fife such a diverse and welcoming community. Whether through informal activities or by providing advice and support, we are delighted to help further the important work of the Fife Migrants Forum and are heartened by our students and staff dedication and commitment to making north east Fife a welcoming and safe environment for all.

“Although the fund was conceived before the Covid-19 crisis, the University recognises that key to a community’s recovery and the very fabric of life in communities are the many small voluntary bodies that are responding to the needs of their residents with a will and bravery which must be commended.”