As a forum we have always worked, and will always continue to work, on a principle of capacity building that can be modeled across all incoming refugee/asylum communities wherever/whatever their origin or destination. We look inwards to our skills and how those skills can be utilized for us as communities and within the larger social community of communities that is the UK today. We seek to integrate our skills and knowledge and to increase those skills and knowledge in such a way that all of society benefits and all of society are enriched.
To that end we have so far achieved the following:
1. During 2003/2004 we ran an ICT course for our youth aimed at employment skills acquisition and access into employment - funded by the European Social Fund 25 individuals participated in the 12 week course, many of whom have gone on to achieve employment.
2. Funded by Help A London Child we collected and distributed gifts to 150 Sierra Leone children, and their parents and careers, in Southwark.
3. We have provided childcare training courses for 30 individuals aged between 21 and 60 which cover child protection, health and safety, disability discrimination and the Race Relations Amendment Act. This has not only created employment creation but the ability to cascade the training down thru the train the trainers approach. Designed for non-English speakers/readers it was taught in Creole, the most commonly used language amongst the Sierra Leone community and then recorded on both DVD and Video to enable its wider usage.
4. We provide interpreters in a wide range of Sierra Leone and African languages/language groups to organizations such as Prestige and we are expanding on this skills base to provide services directly to the NHS Trusts and Local Authorities within the triboro configuration of Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham. The intention here is to take our interpreters thru the Lewisham PCT Health First health Advocacy Course so that we may supply gateway services for health/social service users so that appropriate use is made of NHS facilities - including GP appointments, clinical appointments, social services applications etc. It is intended to further build on this skills base so that individuals who are fluent both in English and African usage languages can acquire the necessary IT/administration capabilities to gain employment in the public sector and so empower the NHS and local authorities in the provision of local services geared to local needs/local expectations. It also the possibility, in partnership with other like minded refugee/asylum groups, to significantly contribute in finding the solution to current recruitment/retention problems within the public sector, while providing the capability to reduce current on costs associated with translation requirements. We will also be able to provide document/leaflet/publication translation services and to deliver services related to health such as prevention strategies, diet, smoking cessation, sexual health and long term condtion management.
5. Currently we provide after school club activities covering homework clubs, Sierra Leone culture and history, thru sport and recreation thus providing them with a pathway that is both integrationist and respectful of their origin.
6. During 2003 we facilitated classroom volunteers for Snowfield Primary School, Aylwin Girl's School and Grange Primary School. This project was funded thru Comic Relief as a model for ESOL equality in accessing education.
7. During 2004 we ran a joint Health Awareness campaign, across the triboro configuration, with African Community Link and financed by the King's Fund which was geared to the identification, prevention and management of LTCs that impact on the African and Caribbean communities- including coronary heart disease, hepatitis, arthritis and diabetes. This was organized on a seminar approach with over 300 people attending. Such was the success that on completion we received innumerable phone calls, letters and emails not only congratulating us but stating they as individuals were now able to diagnose/recognise the relevant conditions.
8. During 2003/2004 we ran outdoor activities, educational visits and camps for youth. Our intention is to build on this campaign and promote a program of integration across the youth clubs in the triboro area whereby we will present a short history of Sierra Leone, and our proud place in the downfall of slavery, and global black liberation/emancipation; this will then be complemented with Sierra Leone in music allowing us to show youth who we are and what we stand for. It allows for questions to be asked, respect to be gained and for integration based on common interests - social inclusion, music and the greatest ice breaker of all ... football. For when ideas, culture and history have been kicked over there is the field of dreams to play on. This latter innovation/rediscovery we would like to see build into a combined triboro Africans cup with teams being formed from the refugee/asylum communities, youth clubs and housing estates. This we would envisage being played at local levels in knockout format with the finals being played on the Festival Field of Kennington Park.
This brief outline is both our history, in terms of our country and forum , and our future ... a future that must be built on partnership with our sisters and brothers from the Diaspora and refugee/asylum communities as well as those communities we live amongst - particularly those who share with us the stigma of social exclusion, for together we can remove the barriers and build a society which is fit for us all and is based on the premise of from each according to their ability to each according to their need.
9.Provide interpreter in various in Sierra Leonean languages
Marc jeffery Ph.D.