Rachael Tew, Community Liasion Coordinator, writes about networking and making contacts within the local community of Derby. 

Too many people dread getting up and going to work but not me, I love my job! I work as a Community Liaison Coordinator in Derby and I feel lucky to have started in a new team as I have been able to shape the role. I would have cabin fever if I had a job in which I had to sit in an office all day.

Looking back over my calendar, I have been a busy bee attending meetings almost every day since I joined Migrant Help, both for one-on-one networking and attending larger Multi-Agency Forums (MAFs). I am lucky that I meet many inspirational people from a variety of organisations through my role.

The very first thing I did when I joined the organisation was to map all the service available in the East Midlands. I quickly realised what a great place Derby is and what a fantastic array of services are on offer for so many people, from all walks of life. There are so many amazing organisations that are there to serve people.

The second thing I did was contact people from these organisations to introduce myself, my role and Migrant Help so that when I met them in person they already knew who I was. After attending Multi-Agency Forums, I would follow-up with my new contacts and organise separate meetings at their offices to get to know them better and get a feel for their organisation. Before long I had built great working relationships with many of our referral partners such as the Red Cross, Hope Centre (clothing bank), Upbeat Communities (community centre who teach English), Artcore art lessons for mental health, the local council, religious groups and Fee Café – who I actually volunteer for teaching English on Mondays.

An ongoing project of mine is establishing a relationship with our local schools and attending local community events. I have emailed all the schools within Derby and have presentation dates agreed with two different schools. I am also going to the University of Derby next week for a meeting. I would love to work with more schools as I believe everything starts with education. I won’t give up and will hopefully get invited to more in time. Getting into organisations and raising awareness of what we do with people who aren’t already involved is certainly the trickiest part of the role, but who doesn’t love a challenge and shouting about something they are passionate about!

I am involved in the Refugee Week network and we are holding monthly meetings with the various groups arranging events. I’m extremely excited to see the full schedule Derby has on offer so watch this space! We recently organised an awareness event for the public and hosted an event with speakers from Counterpoint Arts. We had planned for 30 people but on the day, we had a packed room with over 50 people attending.

On Saturday 7 April, the Fee Café, that I mentioned earlier, held an event at Derby West Indians Community Association. The event was a great opportunity to socialise with and get to know other groups that provide charitable services in Derby. We had an information stall at the event and spoke to people about the work done by Migrant Help. Over 100 people from all backgrounds including local artists, community activists and representatives from other organisations attended on the day. It was great to chat with all these organisations and many of our clients too! There was also lots of beautiful, tasty Persian food on offer that clearly had taken days to prepare. Who wouldn’t love this job?!

As you can see, I am passionate about my role and I am excited to continue building relationships with others in my local community.

Rachael Tew