By Jonathan, Advocacy team
Last week I attended the final training session of the Refugee Empowerment Project to be led by the Refugee Council. I know I am biased but this is one of the best projects run by the Refugee Council as it seeks to work with 18 refugee leaders to support them with campaign training to run campaigns on issues they are passionate about. Just what the Refugee Council should be doing and we are grateful for the support from Trust for London for this project.
I have been popping into the last few training sessions as we have recruited such a great group and there is such energy and interest in campaigning in defence of asylum seekers and refugees. Over these sessions we have covered the basics of campaigning, media skills, new media opportunities and public speaking.
Some fantastic people and external agencies have also been involved with delivering the training , including the Sheila McKechnie Foundation, 38 Degrees, the English-Speaking Union, Still Human Still Here Campaign, award winning campaigner Jackie Schneider, Lib Dem Councillor Pathamal Ali and former MP Neil Gerrard. The final session will be on 28 June when they visit parliament to meet Karen Buck MP and will receive a training session from the Parliamentary Outreach Service.
But at this session last week, we brought the 18 refugee leaders together with their mentors. These were people from across the voluntary sector with experience in campaigning who have volunteered to offer mentoring support.
There was an incredible burst of energy in the room when the leaders and the mentors finally got to meet up and we all got to know each other. Our support as mentors will now go on for the next six months as we work with our mentees to develop campaign action plans.
This is a very exciting project and never before has the Refugee Council tapped into campaigning expertise in the wider voluntary sector for the direct benefit of refugee leaders. We will have to wait and see what campaigning activities happen now as a result, but from the energy in the room my expectations are high. We are now looking to develop future such training courses in other parts of the UK to build on this exciting project. If you are interested in this idea do please get in touch with us.
For more information on our project from year one please see http://www.refugeecouncil.org.uk/howwehelp/support/development/refugee-empowerment-project