Shared Sunderland

BME groups remain underrepresented in leadership positions due to a lack of opportunities, discrimination, and the absence of role models. Leadership comes in all forms and shapes and anyone can be a leader. Learning how to become a good leader can greatly impact not only your life but your community, your team at work, or your organisation. With the Shared Sunderland project, we are dedicated to making change by supporting the BME community in accessing leadership training, voluntary opportunities, and taking leadership roles in Sunderland.

Partnership organisations

ICOS – came to being in July 2009, it has always focused on bringing individuals and communities together. While we have a particularly strong relationship with the local Eastern European community, we are currently working with people from diverse countries. ICOS works with Black and Minority Ethnic people in Sunderland and surrounding areas, focusing on helping those with limited access to information, networks and opportunities.

SBIC – serving the local community for the past 19 years- it is an Asylum, Refugee, BME-focused charity that addresses issues such as integration, poverty, poor education, poor health, lack of employment and enterprise opportunities for BME people within the City of Sunderland through activities including: financial inclusion, health, education, well-being and equal opportunities.

New Horizon – dedicated African group with many years of experience of providing holistic support to the African community living in Sunderland, including asylum seekers and refugees. It was set up by ex-asylum seeker/refugees to promote co-operation and participatory democracy, self-determination, and change the balance of power. It also provides advice and training

Project Goals

  • Improved wellbeing and access to services, including the establishment of free immigration advice in the city for the first time.
  • Developed group of leaders from migrant, Black and minority communities, which disrupts patterns of racialised power in the city.
  • Public and voluntary services in Sunderland are more inclusive and responsive to the specific needs of migrants.
  • Increased recognition and understanding around issues of racial justice in Sunderland

What we want to do?

  • Advice, guidance and support services will be provided across the three organisations, in the areas of housing, benefits and immigration.
  • Staff members of partnering organisations will participate in OISC training to become the first provider of free immigration advice in Sunderland.
  • Community Leadership Development – we will support BME community to take up leadership roles in the city.
  • Advocacy and influencing – we will support statutory authorities to understand the needs of, and opportunities brought by migrant, Black and minoritised communities in Sunderland

Why Shared Sunderland project is so important?

  • Awareness of the availability of services needs to be raised among BME community.
  • Project will tackle inequalities that create barriers for people from minority communities in Sunderland from taking part in leadership roles.
  • There are very few organisations supporting people who have migrated to Sunderland and there is no free immigration advice provision in the city.
  • Migration organisations in the city report that newcomers rarely feel welcome and many refugees leave when they secure their legal status.

Follow ICOS and its partner organisations Sunderland Bangladesh International Centre and New Horizon Sunderland to see what support you can get from Shared Sunderland Team.

Meet the Shared Sunderland team

Agnieszka Cielecka (ICOS – Support Worker)

Hello, my name is Agnieszka Cielecka and I work for ICOS on the Shared Sunderland project as a project worker. I am supporting people with barriers such as English language, cultural barriers, low income, access to information, lack of self-confidence, isolation, loneliness, and limited access to basic services such as housing and welfare.

I am giving advice and guidance in the area of benefits:

  • applying for benefits
  • benefits sanctions
  • appealing a benefit decision
  • overpayment and wrongly calculated payments
  • access to information and understanding of how benefits work
  • eligibility for different benefits

I also can support you with looking for a place to live, applying for social housing, but also with other problems related to housing and renting:

  • booking appointments for repairs
  • communication with the landlord
  • council tax
  • moving your bills to a new address
  • bills for energy
  • homelessness
  • evictions
  • neighbour antisocial behaviour
  • discrimination

If you think that you could benefit from my help, I could help you with problems that you can’t overcome, or you just simply have a question, please contact me by phone at 07563357064 or email at you can also drop me a message on WhatsApp – Agnieszka Cielecka ICOS.

My help is completely free!!

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