Who Are We

Taken from the Leeds Initiative Blog

Migrants to Leeds are helping themselves and helping others…

05th April 2012

Never doubt a small group of dedicated individuals can change the world.  

Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.

– Margaret Mead.

Last Saturday, I had the great pleasure of helping to facilitate an away day for a group of Leeds’ migrants who have been volunteering to be “migrant community organisers” over the last year. Basically they have been taking a crash course on all things “Leeds” and the “UK” and then making sure that people from their communities are getting the right messages about what services do and what they don’t do.

This not only helps people who are new to the UK to navigate what can sometimes be a bureaucratic nightmare (can’t get a flat ‘til you have a bank account, can’t get a bank account ‘til you have an address etc) but it really helps Leeds’ services to do what they do best when people know what to expect and how to use the services well.

The aim of the day was to bring together people who have already been through the training to see how they have made use of it, and to explore ways they can work together to have an even bigger impact.

As part of my day job, I work on the Leeds Migration Partnership. This is a strategic partnership of agencies and organisations who work together to make sure that Leeds gets the benefits of migration to the city, and also to ensure that people who arrive here either seeking sanctuary, to study or to work can have a fair chance to make the best of the city’s opportunities.

So it was just fantastic to see how so much of the strategic ambition can come to life with a diverse, determined and talented bunch. I often say that people don’t cross oceans and continents if they don’t have something about them – and tapping in to their skills and potential can only make our city better.

Throughout the day the group worked to find the areas that they want to improve knowledge of, to find ways that they can help each other out and to share their networks for information and support.

By the end of the day, they agreed to form a Migrant Communities Network, and will now begin work on ways that they can organise themselves and continue to help the people of Leeds and the city’s new arrivals. Watch this space. I don’t think it’s the last we’ll hear of them.

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