Meet The Forum: Charlene

9 November 2011
The Forum

Graduate Placement – Mentoring Project

My name is Charlene, and I am 24. I recently graduated with a degree in Sociology, which engaged my interest in human rights and led me to move to London to work for MRCF. I am very interested in women’s rights, and have just started an online magazine for women called RealWomenMag.

Where do you live and where have you lived before?
I grew up in a seaside town called Bournemouth in the south of England, and lived there until I moved to University in Southampton. I lived there for three years, until last summer, when I moved to east London.

Why are you interested in migration?
Coming from a small town with residents who were predominantly White British, I often felt frustrated at the lack of diversity around me. However, I began to see small changes, with concentrated areas of Polish migrants and Asian communities. I knew very little about migration and wanted to learn more about the emotional effects of the movement of people. Working at MRCF has allowed me to understand in much greater depth the issues faced by migrants, refugees and asylum seekers.

What do you do at MRCF?

I work on the New Beginnings Mentoring project, which supports isolated migrants and refugees by matching them with volunteers who can help with things such as learning English, providing emotional support and guidance, and going for a coffee. My job involves training new volunteers, matching mentees and mentors, and organising activities and workshops.

How did you come to work at MRCF?

I gained a job on a Graduate Management Scheme with the National Skills Academy. This involves a one year placement gaining experience in leadership and management. I asked to be placed within a migrant organisation and took up the great opportunity to work at MRCF.

What do you think is unique about MRCF?
MRCF is like no organisation I have worked for before. With a background in banking and retail, the small and friendly environment at MRCF is far from the corporate world I had experienced. What stands out about MRCF- besides our warm welcoming atmosphere- is
the diversity of the services we offer, from a library for doctors and dentists who are retraining, to advice, mentoring and digital activism courses.

What issues do you think are most important to
migrants in London?

Cuts to services which support migrants are worrying. One example of this is the dramatic cuts in ESOL classes. Cutting English classes will affect how confident many migrants feel in accessing services that are meant to support them. ESOL classes also reduce isolation through meeting new friends and creating support networks.

What are you looking forward to in the next year?
Watching friendships develop between people who have been through similar experiences is the best part of my job. So I’m looking forward to seeing this happen as a result of the activities we provide.

“Cutting ESOL will affect

how confident migrants feel

in accessing services that are

meant to support them. ”

 

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