Our aims and values
Values, principles and methodology
The principles of Participatory Action Research (PAR) underpin our work; marginalised communities explore issues affecting them, analysing their own experiences, and generating new knowledge and understanding, which they can act upon to make change. We have found this to be a powerful and effective approach, which leads to individual, group, community, and policy level transformation. We have found residential experiences provide transformative ways in which people can come together, build and deepen relationships, action plan and have new experiences, using peer to peer and participatory models for change. Art, food, relationship building and participatory methodologies are some of the key tools we use in our work. Being together in a residential setting with people sharing the same experiences, we cook, eat, drum, dance, play, sing, share, explore and create together - reclaiming our humanity and dignity, celebrating our differences, learning from and taking care of one another.
We strive to be an anti-racist anti-sexist organisation founded, managed and driven by people from Africa, Latin America and Asia. Those of our trustees/co-workers who are white British have committed themselves to anti-racism and are very aware of their whiteness and the privileges this carries. They are committed to support the leadership of those of us who are the most marginalised due to the colour of our skin and our gender.
The communities we serve
We exist to benefit, primarily but not exclusively, people from refugee and migrant backgrounds. We do not ask people participating in our projects for their immigration status. We know that most of the people coming to our programs have either refugee status or are seeking asylum due to the fact that we work with organisations run by and for people who fall into these categories and who on many occasions are referred by governmental bodies such as the Refugee Council, Social Services, the Police and even the Home Office. Examples of the organisation we work with are: Refugee Youth; NOMAD (Nation of Migration Awakening the Diaspora), Solidarity Hull, EYST and the newly arrived Syrian families in New Town, who came through the Home Office Gateway Project.
The needs of our communities
People from refugee and migrant backgrounds experience disadvantage in multiple interconnected ways. Language & cultural differences, loss of community and family networks and the UK’s punitive immigration and asylum systems and its “hostile environment” lead to poverty, lack of opportunity/access to resources and mental health difficulties.
The experience of seeking refuge can be as traumatic as the situations people are fleeing from, or can be a catalyst in people experiencing more mental and emotional distress; the limbo period of uncertainty, being labelled and exploited, feeling antagonised and facing xenophobia, threats of deportation, the long hours of inhumane, intimidating Home Office interviews being asked the same questions in many different ways, the feelings that officials do not believe you, feeling re-traumatised by having to tell your stories countless times. All of this leaves people with a detrimental state of mind, feelings of anger and hopelessness and a very real feeling of isolation, and many people we know are still living these harrowing dehumanising existences many years on.
In addition to this, young people living in rural Wales can often be isolated and economically disadvantaged, with few opportunities to connect with diverse communities. These circumstances can lead to misunderstanding and scapegoating. Four Welsh cities are among UK dispersal areas with the highest number of people seeking asylum per head of population. This has put a further strain on these low resourced local authorities breeding feelings of resentment within communities and further fuelled by nationalistic and anti-immigration discourses. Home Office data reveals a 22% rise of hate crime in Wales since the Brexit referendum in June 2016.
Working in rural Wales we are constantly having to address intersectional issues of race, class and gender within our work, and from this we are learning a great deal. We are often the only people of colour, and from this position it can be challenging to navigate relationships and dialogues with our local community, which is made up largely of white middle class liberal/progressive people who have migrated from England, and the long standing white working class Welsh community; with a great chasm existing between the two.
Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, the people and communities we work with experienced many of the following challenges:
Precarious employment, or joblessness
Precarious housing or homelessness
Difficulty accessing benefits and support, either through lack of eligibility, or lack of knowledge about rights and access
difficulties accessing health care and support services due to immigration status
Already living in poverty, and with no savings or financial security.
All of these things have been severely exacerbated by the pandemic, and the long term effects will be felt for months if not years by the communities we exist to serve.