Collaboration with the Multi-Faith Centre in Derby

I met with Lorraine Stokes from the Multi-Faith Centre at the University of Derby within my first few months of being with Migrant Help. From our early conversations I learnt about the Survive and Thrive project.

The Survive and Thrive project is a partnership between Upbeat Communities, the Multi-Faith Centre and the British Red Cross, funded by the Big Lottery Fund. It supports refugees and asylum seekers by providing casework for destitution and orientation assistance, signposting to other organisations, mentoring and befriending, education and wellbeing support, working with community groups, awareness raising and advocacy.

The Multi-Faith Centre’s role in this project is to support refugees and asylum seekers to participate in community activity, feel able to contribute to the community and feel better understood by statutory services.

They do this by delivering awareness raising activities to local groups, as well as training to local services and community groups. They create action plans for local services/community groups to improve their engagement with refugees and asylum services and involve councillors and MPs with these groups and issues. The Centre also facilitates the Derby Voices Forum to get refugee and asylum seekers' voices heard by key decision makers and provides one to one support.

In total, I have delivered training to 107 people in 2018 and 89 in 2019, mostly co-presenting with the Survive and Thrive project. The types of organisations we have delivered training to vary from teachers, midwives, social workers, volunteers and across a broad range of organisations.

Lorraine, who had been leading on this project, has now transitioned to a new role but is still a supporting advocate. Ahmed Alabdali, who has been through the asylum process himself and has always supported the project and Migrant Help by sharing his lived experience, is now leading the project through its final year. I look forward to continuing to work closely with the project.

Another aspect of joint working is events. We often have stalls together and should one of us not be able to attend, we share our resources and talk to people about what the other organisations do.

During Refugee Week 2019, the Multi-Faith Centre invited Migrant Help to their joint event, also partnered with Derbyshire Refugee Solidarity and the University of Derby. This was a screening of the Movement documentary and a social/networking event. It was a great event with a high turnout of over 100 people and Just-Ice was there handing out delicious ice creams. This organisation helps to support victims of human trafficking and child soldiers. Following this, the Multi-Faith Centre has been partnering with the University of Derby to become a University of Sanctuary.

With a great partnership like this, if either of us were unable to attend a meeting locally, we could update on what the other has been up to in terms of trainings and awareness raising.

Rachael Tew, Community Liaison Coordinator