A HOST of projects designed to "empower" people by improving their language skills received praise from a member of the House of Lords during a visit to Bradford yesterday.

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, who was appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department for Communities and Local Government in July, spent time at three venues across the city where migrants and non-English speakers were taking part in community courses to boost their confidence and skills.

He said one of the biggest challenges facing Britain today was the integration of different communities into a multi-cultural society.

"There are people who have been settled in Britain for decades who can only converse in a few words in English, if at all, and we need to look at that and say, this isn't about trying to impose anything, it's about helping individuals to become more effective contributors to society," said Lord Ahmad.

"The projects I have seen today are all about empowering through language, and seeing how this process can assist people in their daily lives.

"Language is the first step which can open so many doors, but beyond that is self-empowerment.

"Self-esteem is an important part of what defines an individual, and projects like this allow people to achieve so much more."

Lord Ahmad visited a Creative English class at Trescom on Godwin Street, Bradford, where 50 learners have accessed the FaithAction class since June, using role play and drama to assist with everyday scenarios such as getting a doctor's appointment or visiting the job centre.

Dr Anne Smith, who developed the course, said: "The lessons look to create a sense of belonging, and you can't belong without language skills."

Saeeda Ahmed, founding director of Trescom, added: "This model is fantastic for building confidence, it's a project that really makes a difference in people's lives."

Lord Ahmad also saw English My Way classes in action at the Safety First Community Training Centre in Edward Street, Bradford, a course which targets adults who speak English as a second language.

Centre Trustee Nazmin Din said: "It is really important for people to learn English as soon as they can to reduce the amount spent on translation and interpreters, and the English My Way programme is a great way to learn in a safe environment."

The QED Foundation's Quest for Integration Yorkshire project aims to help 300 migrant women settle in the Bradford district, with the ten-week programme offering language skills, employment advice, employability skills, and training support.

Dr Mohammed Ali OBE, CEO of QED, said the visit was an opportunity to "highlight positive action around integration," and Lord Ahmad said it was "inspiring" to meet women benefitting from the "lifeline" programme.

Lord Ahmad also visited Youth United at St Matthew's Church on Carr Bottom Road, Bradford, to see how they increase participation in youth groups.