Mike Stoddart writes….
Action for Refugees was formed as a grouping of academics, support staff and students at Edge Hill University who felt a common need to respond to the plight of refugees and asylum seekers in the UK and abroad.
The initial spark was created by a presentation given by members of staff in the Faculty of Education on their work as volunteers in the Calais Jungle. This prompted a multi-faceted response that included fund-raising, volunteering, curriculum developments and knowledge sharing and transfer events. Perhaps most importantly, the group engaged on a number of levels with refugees, asylum seekers and organisations working to support them.
We aim to promote a multi-faceted, positive, response to the refugee crisis that results in a greater understanding of and practical support for those involved.
Our intended outcomes are to:
- Share relevant research.
- Increase knowledge and understanding of the refugee crisis.
- Provide practical support to refugees, asylum seekers and those agencies working with them.
- Ensure that all teacher-training graduates from the Faculty of Education are better able to meet the learning requirements of refugees.
- To learn from the experiences, skills and knowledge of refugees and asylum seekers.
We are very keen to ensure that the development of the group is led by the priorities of those directly involved. It is important to us that the group is open to refugees and asylum seekers as well as representatives from the wide range of organisations working to support them.
Prof John Diamond writes…
The work colleagues – staff and students – are undertaking across both the Faculty of Education and the wider University to support refugee and asylum seekers and the various NGO support groups that exist here in the North West of England are a very real and practical example of how skills, knowledge and ideas can be shared and the effect of which can be transformative.
At the same time it, also, tells us something very powerful that we cannot predict what that transformation will look like or what its impact will be. The work too draws on many ways of working from the campaigning and lobbying to nurturing and supporting individuals as they seek to create a new life and a new way of being.
The broad and wide network of organisations from faith groups to campaigning and information giving agencies illustrate the diverse yet inter-connected community that has been drawn together to work for the needs of those involved.
An important part of any campaigning and voluntary associated network is to try and avoid becoming too much part of the fixtures and fittings and we need to be focussed on facilitating the independence of the groups we are working with so that they can define and shape their needs and expectations.
The importance of self organising and independence rather than being shaped and becoming dependent are themes and ways of working which those who have worked with community organisations will recognise. Promoting these ideas, supporting their adoption and providing spaces for shared learning and critical reflection are some of the tangible and important associated things we can do in the Faculty of Education. I ask you to continue to support this really important work and to support the networks and learning groups which are being established.
Professor John Diamond is the Associate Dean : Knowledge Exchange and Innovation for the Faculty of Education, Edge Hill University.
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