Refugee community organisations (RCOs) from around the country joined staff and a host of other guests to officially launch the Basis Project in central London on 17 March.
Chaired by the Refugee Council’s Chief Executive, Donna Covey, the event was a chance to present the work done so far and to invite discussion about how things should be taken forward.
“We have developed the Basis project with support from the Big Lottery Fund because we are committed to improving the capacity of RCOs to deliver services to members of their communities,” Donna Covey explained in the opening plenary session.
“We also recognise the importance of their role in supporting their communities and influencing the services of statutory and voluntary sector organisations to improve services for refugees and asylum seekers,” she continued. “And they play a vital role in helping the integration of refugees into our society.”
Sanjay Dighe, England Chair of the Big Lottery Fund, stressed how significant the aims of the Basis Project are. “It’s incredibly important that we help RCOs develop skills and capacity,” he said, “and that we help refugees integrate into our society.”
Sandy Buchan, Chief Executive of Refugee Action (the other partner in the Basis Project), spoke of his personal experience in seeing the vital role RCOs play in helping refugees and asylum seekers. While there were many difficulties regarding the current funding environment, he said, “the only place to start is with the grassroots and I hope the Basis Project will be able to do that.”
Finally, the Basis Project Manager, Emily Kippax, outlined the work underway so far. Organisational Development Officers (ODOs) are now in post in every English region, she said. RCOs interested in taking part should make contact with their local ODO (or via the Basis Project central team) so that an eligibility assessment could be made.
The speeches over, attendees at the launch went on to workshops covering:
- RCOs’ experience of working with funders and second-tier organisations
- Consultation mechanisms and the Basis Project Advisory Group
- Outcomes of the research report that was phase one of the Basis Project
- The forthcoming Basis Project website and RCOs’ requirements from new media.
Feedback from the workshops is currently being collated – we’ll post more information on this blog when it’s available.
Regional Basis Project launches will also be taking place over the coming months – look out for information in your area, or check back to this blog for details.