Meet The Forum: Zrinka

18 November 2011
The Forum

[h4]Executive Director[/h4]

[blockquote]I came to London from war torn Sarajevo in 1993. I was a journalist before the war and during the war I worked with foreign war correspondents. My journalist friends helped me get out and find sanctuary in London.[/blockquote]

Where do you live? Where have you lived before?
I now live in north London. I was born in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which was then Yugoslavia. I also spent some time working and living in Germany when I was a student.

Why are you interested in migration?
I had a very difficult time when I arrived in the UK. I had no idea what to do, what the procedure was and this made my war trauma even worse. I had friends and spoke English and still it was a struggle. As I went through the system I felt it was very unjust and unfair and that it treated all refugees as if they were criminals. Also, as a journalist I was beginning to be aware of the extremely negative public discourse on immigration and the role the media plays in it. Although I did some work as a journalist in the UK, and was even more fired up by the injustice I saw all around me, I felt I could no longer report it – I had to do something about it.

What do you do at MRCF?
I have been Executive Director at the Forum for ten years now and it has been very exciting work which combines policy, advocacy and training. There are aspects of my job that are very easy, like staff management– easy because we have brilliant team of professional and committed staff. In fact the hardest part of managing the team is to stop them from working too much. One of the more challenging aspects of my work is fundraising. This is hard for all not-for-profit organisations, but for us at the Forum it is even more challenging as we are not the most popular cause and not that many funders want to support us. That is why we are even more grateful to our funders who recognise the importance of our work both now and long-term.

What do you think is unique about MRCF?

The Forum is its members. Through what we do we see a lot of misery, injustice, pain, and inequality and it would be easy to be bitter and depressed. But wethe staff, trustees, volunteers and our members- have somehow managed to establish a way of working andliving that acknowledges the pain and injustice but thenwe jointly focus on solutions. We do not have timeto be bitter and our doer mentality is what I am most
proud of. We are very innovative – look at our pioneering work with overseas health professionals, or more recently with digital activism training.

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

Those who are working must be paid the London Living Wage and exploitation of migrant workers must end immediately. Those who are qualified, like our dentists should be provided with a pathway to vocational verification training urgently as it is a huge waste
for them and for our society and economy that they are not able to contribute in their professional roles. The integration of all migrants needs to be a strategic, two way process and include social, economic and cultural elements.

What are you looking forward to in the next year?
I am very much looking forward to the Olympic Games. As a young girl in Sarajevo I took part in the opening ceremony for the Winter Olympics and remember the games as the happiest time of my life. I am very excited about London proving that its super
diversity is an asset.

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