Training and Development Project in Tees Valley

 Update Winter 2011 – 2012

 Much has been happening in the Tees Valley over the recent months through the hard work and commitment of the various refugee community organisations active in the area. Below is a highlight of some of the things that have been going on.

 RRF General meeting  

 On 14th December 2011, 19 community representatives from Tees Valley Refugee Community Organisations (RCOs) attended our general meeting  in Middlesbrough. The aims of the meeting were to:

· Update the RRF Executive Committee about the progress of the work of the membership and to inform them about challenges they are facing and any recommendations for tackling them

· Hear about the work of the Executive Committee since the AGM last March and put any questions to them

· Provide a networking opportunity for RCOs to share what works and what needs to happen to make things work

· Explore the potential for collective action on key issues

· Encourage RCOs to become a full member of the RRF

 The evening started with some short presentations from the RRF executive committee, the showing of dvd highlighting 2 European visits made by the executive committee and then a time for questions for the executive committee from the membership. 

Following this, Richard Mahlahla (DASUK) and Elizabeth Animashaun (The Healthy Wellbeing) gave a joint presentation promoting the importance of collective working.  The rest of the evening was spent in small groups discussing what activities and issues each RCO was involved in and the various challenges and barriers they face. The recommendations from these discussions were to be taken forward for consideration by the staff team and the management

 RRF Network Event  

One of the recommendations made by the membership at the General Meeting in Tees Valley (and also by members in Tyneside and Wearside) was to have a regular opportunity to network with other RCOs and also to be able to network with agencies providing services and supportthat might benefit their members.
The first Networking event was held in Tees Valley on Thursday 26th January at the NewportNeighbourhood Centre. 20 participants attendedalong with agency representativesfrom Middlesbrough Voluntary DevelopmentAgency (MVDA) and Lifeline.

RCOs had the opportunity to network with each other and discuss issues along with providing some useful evidence relating to the health needs of asylum seekers. The RRF will contribute the info to a consultation being carried out by the North East Strategic Migration Partnership (NESMP) in relation to the new UKBA accommodation contract.

Joe from Lifeline provided the group with some information about free gym sessions for men and women at Teesside University (contact Andrew for more info on this) and then Eileen from MVDA provided some useful advice on monitoring projects, keeping financial records and gave some funding updates. 
Finally the last part of the session was used to carry out some participatory consultation about who to invite for future networking sessions and what day and time would be most suitable – if you didn’t attend the event but want to contribute your thoughts please get in touch with Andrew.
Some of the suggested agencies to invite were:
Tees Valley Community Foundation/ MVDA/ UKBA/
Housing Providers/ Police/ Banks/ Trade Union/ Credit Union
/ Job Centre Plus/ Local Authorities/ Volunteer Centre (MVDA)/ Hospitals /Citizens Advice Bureau/ Immigration solicitors/
Colleges & Universities/ Mayor, MP, Councillors/
Local Education Authorities/ NHS/ Regeneration
(Local Authority)/ Human Resources (Local Authority)



NHS Interpreting and Translation Service Consultation

On Friday 13th Jan 2012, 10 representatives from refugee communities attended a consultation event  at Stockton Library organised by the Local Involvement Networks (LINks) for Middlesbrough, Stockton and Redcar and Cleveland, with the support of the RRF.

The event was organised to find out the views of the asylum seekers and refugees along with the wider BME community about the interpreting and translation services provided by the NHS in primary care services (e.g. GPs, dentists). The evidence gathered through the consultation event was then provided to the NHS who will use the information when commissioning the new service providers later on in 2012.  To read the report from the event click here 


RCO Activities
Many RCOs in Tees Valley have been busy over the last few months. Below are a few updates from what has been going on.
Star Award for Ibtihal  
Ibtihal Albasry, chairperson of Sisters Together and secretary of the Regional Refugee Forum NE was recognised as the BME volunteer of the year 2011 at the MVDA Star Awards.
Ibtihal, who has worked very hard over the last few years in various community activities was given the accolade at the Star Award Event on 29th November. The Awards were supported by MVDA, Middlesbrough Council and Teesside University and Ibtihal was presented the award by Middlesbrough Mayor Ray Mallon
Women’s bike sessions with British Cycling
Mano River Union, with the support of British Cycling, have organised a series of cycling sessions for women from RCOs in Tees Valley. The sessions take place at Middlesbrough Cycle Circuit on Sunday afternoons.
For more information contact Mamadou on 07765331021 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

RCO websites

A number of RCOs have been developing their websites:
The Healthy Wellbeing
Equality Engagement

Update Summer 2011

The Training & Development (T&D) project has been running in Tees Valley since November 2010 and over 50 participants from 25 refugee-led community organisations (RCOs) have accessed support from Andrew Jackson, the T&D worker for the region. Participants have identified various issues affecting their communities, developed ideas to address these issues and have started implementing them in order to bring about positive change.

The Tees Valley region covers the areas of Middlesbrough, Stockton, Darlington, Hartlepool and Redcar and Cleveland. Most of the RCOs work across the region with the majority of their members based in the Middlesbrough or Stockton area.

The majority of the of issues are identified through participatory planning techniques, which allow all participants to contribute their ideas and have their voices heard, rather than just one or two people taking control or the loudest voice being heard. Participatory techniques are also useful when working with individuals whose first language isn’t English as they provide a more visual approach to problem solving and planning. For more information on participatory approaches click here

The types of issues members have decided to address include lack of access employment, training and education; the needs of newly arrived asylum seekers including advice, information and guidance; health issues within the community and lack of access to appropriate health services; race hate and antisocial behaviour towards asylum seekers within local communities; isolation among members of the community; and problems with housing among asylum seekers and refugees.

Solutions to these issues have included developing various projects such as advice, information and guidance, educational classes (e.g. IT or ESOL), sports and health activities; working with service providers to highlight the issues and to develop strategies to remove barriers to access; gathering evidence from community members around the issues they are facing; delivering training to organisations around the issues faced by refugee communities; attending local platforms (such as the Cleveland Police’s Independent Advisory Groups) to have their voices heard; and working with other RCOs to develop partnership working in addressing issues.

Below are some highlights of the work being carried out by T&D participants:

Economic Inclusion

A number of RCOs are developing projects around employment, training and education for their members. Andrew has worked with the Tees Valley Iranian Community to help them plan an advice, information and guidance project to support their members to access the appropriate services. International Associates Community are being supported in organising an event to raise funds for destitute asylum seekers and have been linked up with Open Door North East, a local charity providing accommodation and food for this client group.

Community Safety

Denied Asylum Seekers UK (DASUK) members identified race crime against themselves and others living in Thornaby as an issue that needed to be addressed. Not only did they want to tackle the issue of racist abuse towards asylum seekers living in the area but to wanted to ensure that the Police responded appropriately to any race crime incidents. Andrew helped them think through the issues in terms of identifying possible solutions and then helped them take action. Firstly they met with a representative from the Cleveland Police Authority (who monitor Cleveland Police and hold them accountable) who listened to their experiences. Through this meeting they were able to make contact with the Police Inspector for Thornaby who arranged for a community meeting to be held in a local youth centre close to where some of the DASUK members were living.

Photo: DASUK planning meeting

The group were able to speak up about what they had been experiencing and how they were feeling about the response of the Police. The Police officers present listened to the members and agreed to work with them to look at ways of addressing the issues and develop ways of working together to promote better understanding between the asylum seeker community and the Police. Regular meetings have been set up to allow good communication between DASUK and the local neighbourhood Policing team and DASUK members have a seat at the table at one of Cleveland Police’s Independent Advisory Groups, allowing them to speak up about hate crime in the area.

DASUK has also delivered presentations to front line response officers in order to raise awareness around the some of the barriers that asylum seekers and refugees may face when dealing with the police.


Photos; Nursing Consultation

18 individuals from 9 different nationalities attended a consultation event in August 2011 organised by the Regional Refugee Forum and Teesside University. The purpose of the event was to get the views of the communities on ‘what makes a good nurse’. Attendees representing 12 different RCOs from across the region were able to speak up about their experiences of good nursing and the kind of characteristics they expect from a good nurse. Ideas were also shared about how Teesside University could work together with RCOs in terms of developing learning opportunities for student nurses to find out more about health issues impacting these communities.

Getting involved

If you are part of a refugee community based in Tees Valley or you are an asylum seeker or refugee with ideas about bringing about positive change for your community (it might be a project, a campaign a business idea, or something different) you can get support from the Training and Development project. You can either call (07918765663/01642 232446), send an email ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) or drop in to the office for a chat with Andrew - Newport Neighbourhood Centre, 2 St Paul’s Road, Middlesbrough, TS1 5NQ (click here for a map)


If you want to find out more about how your organisation can connect with the Training and Development project, start making contact with refugee community organisations and develop opportunities for partnership working please contact Andrew using the info above or you could contact the Project Manager, Herbert Dirahu ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) or on 07918765658.