City of Wolverhampton Council will this month launch a mobile pop-up furniture factory to provide training and mentoring opportunities for refugees and migrants to carry out home makeovers for residents from vulnerable backgrounds.

The European-funded MiFriendly Cities initiative will be delivered by a consortium led by African Caribbean Community Initiative (ACCI) and including Right Track, BME Housing Consortium and The Crafty Gardener.

Activities will take place across Wolverhampton in Blakenhall, Whitmore Reans and Heath Town up to February 2021 and will provide migrants with new skills to help them become more independent and so enable them to improve their living and health conditions.

Participants will be trained in recycling and restoring furniture, painting, decorating and DIY to deliver home makeovers and run repair cafes to encourage self-repair and upcycling.

MiFriendly Cities looks to improve integration in cities with high levels of migration and is aimed at inspiring and empowering refugees and migrants to integrate with the local community and be creative.

The £110,000 European funded pop-up furniture factory project is also tied in with the West Midlands Combined Authority’s Housing First programme, which will identify homes for makeovers to improve the living environments for the city’s most vulnerable people.

Councillor Peter Bilson, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for City Assets and Housing, said: “This is a fantastic project that will transform people’s lives, by empowering our migrant community and building community cohesion.

“Upskilling refugees and migrants mean they can make a significant contribution to the local community.

“The pop-up furniture factory will not only teach them valuable skills but will see many vulnerable residents benefit from new furniture and home improvements – delivering better homes and strong communities.”

ACCI Director of Services, Alicia Spence, added: “We are looking forward to using a collaborative approach with our partners to promote active engagement with our displaced brothers and sisters through this project.

“We aim to facilitate better community integration by developing individual skills, confidence and capability and improve the lives of many vulnerable families in our community. 
“The project will also have a significant environmental impact through upcycling and recycling."

The consortium is committed to furthering the legacy of the MiFriendly Cities project and will look to continue activities beyond the lifetime of the project to support local residents.

The council’s MiFriendly Cities team, based in the Housing directorate, works in partnership with local voluntary organisations, Public Health, Wolverhampton Homes and the Refugee and Migrant Centre.