RA-C Transforming to be right for now!

AGM 15th November 2018

I was so pleased to welcome friends, volunteers, partners, members of the Refugee Action – Colchester family, to celebrate our third year as the welcoming network for people seeking refuge in Colchester and beyond. Throughout the evening we heard a selection of our stories and saw the wealth of good which has come from us collectively, together this year.

We would like to make one special thank you to Sally Shaw who has been such an ally and built the partnership between First Site and Refugee Action – Colchester. Without Sally and her team and the hospitality of First Site we would not have been able to host our events in the centre of the community of Colchester and we are proud to have helped in a small way to bring the community into First Site.

Since last year we have grown and matured from a loose network of people, powered by humanity, welcoming refugees and asylum seekers to Colchester to becoming a key player in meeting their needs and empowering their successful integration. We have become a Community Interest Company and made some wonderful new partnerships, many of whom are here tonight. We feel we have almost grown up!

As you know, this organisation is completely run by volunteers and funded by donations. We have key volunteers and directors doing great work and ensuring that help and funds are on hand. And you will also know that the whole RA-C network exists because of two people who keep it in mind at all times – Maria and Iman.  We cannot let our wonderful central pair hold on to everything as we grow bigger and, with them leading and working all hours, we grow better.

I am thrilled to be able to announce that we have received a Development Grant from the Big Lottery to help us become more effective. We have funds for our office, and to migrate next door to a second office, for training, development and to pay for some time, 6 months, to transform.

As we change and transform, we are determined to keep hold of our core values. We have thought about these and some of the ideas of what RA-C is about will certainly ring true.
Words such as: Trust;  Honesty; Seeing;  Recognising; Partnership; Courage; Empowering; Encouraging; Appreciation; Enrichment

We feel that refugees are Welcome in Colchester, we hope you feel that too. Refugees are also becoming part of our community, taking their place and belonging. We have tried to encapsulate what we are doing in one sentence:
Through a wide range of partnerships and experience RA-C enables all those seeking refuge to access support that can change their lives for the better.

How will we change this year?
We have a Board of Directors and we are ready now to create a management team
We want to carry on encouraging volunteers and refugees to take their ideas and fly. So we will be helping people run strands of the RA-C work themselves as teams, taking on work, answering to the management group but responding to change as it happens.

Our strands of work remain Advocacy, Education, Employment and Outreach.
But the context is changing. We are working with all people seeking refuge, Refugees, Asylum seekers, people with no recourse to public funding and others. We need to be ready, trained and aware, to help people affected by Windrush, Brexit, to deal with new threats and meet needs that we have not yet seen.

We promise to bend with the wind, be flexible, adapt and change.
This coming year will bring transformation – a lasting change to meet the new context. To be right for now
Please join us in our vision for this year. We would like you to help and guide and join us as we try to provide

A supportive environment that enables all people seeking refuge to realise their full potential in their new lives.