A Year in the Life of the Forum: Our Report Card is Out

2 July 2014
Zrinka Bralo

Due to popular demand, this year we again chose to produce our annual report in the form of Infographics.

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The report card is great snapshot of our achievements but, it is our people who make a huge difference, that we want to celebrate today. They make The Forum what it is: Home Away from Home. The Forum’s work in the past year was delivered by a dedicated, hard working and great team of people: Beth Crosland, Head of Development (until October 2013); Francesca Valerio, Coordinator, Mentoring and Volunteering; Heike Langbein, Mentoring and Volunteering Project Worker; Indre Gimžiunaite, Adviser, Advice Project (until November 2013); Jessica Kennedy, Development Coordinator (from October 2013); Krissie Nicolson, Community Organiser (from February 2014); Mahdi Omar, Caretaker (until December 2013); Sofia Aman, Finance Worker/Administrator and Zrinka Bralo, Executive Director. Many thanks to Sue Macmillan and Tish Kester for their work on The Refuge.

We are grateful for the contribution of our Trustees in the past year they were: Ali Lazizi, West London Moroccan Widadia; Cllr Judith Blakeman, RBKC; Eddie Chow, Chinese Migrants Network; Jonathan Ellis, Head of Advocacy, British Red Cross; Lorraine Gilbert, Notting Hill Housing; Marion Vargaftig, Producer, Manifesta; Mohamed Farah, Hodan Somali Community; Nazek Ramadan, Migrant Voice; Senait Eyob, Ethiopian Women’s Empowerment Group and Roz Pendlebury, Organisational Consultant. We are grateful to Judy Quinn, West and North West London Vietnamese Association and Waris Mohamoud, Midaye Somali Development Network who stood down this year and served on our Board for many years.

We owe huge debt of gratitude to Nicola Hirst, Senior Associate at Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP who provided invaluable legal advice on a pro bono basis.

We had an amazing 20th Birthday in November 2013. We were delighted and honoured that broadcaster Samira Ahmed, Fergal Keane, BBC Special Correspondent and Bharat Mehta, CEO of Trust for London spoke at our Anniversary. We also heard from our valued members Agnes Swamba and Onome Ugbeye, and our amazing volunteers Jeff Samuelson and Ujwala Jayaram, people who make The Forum what it is – home away from home. We screened all five short films about the 2013 winners of the Woman on the Move Awards and heard from the winner of the Young Woman of the Year Award, Cynthia Masiyiwa. The celebration ended with a routine from fantastic comedian and campaigner Kate Smurthwaite.

We are grateful to The Women on the Move Awards team: Andrej Mehacic (UNHCR), Bella Kosmala (MRN), Jessica Kennedy, Kristina Ousmanova, Laura Padoan (UNHCR), Maryam Pasha (MRN), Panos Christodolou and Zrinka Bralo.

The Ceremony took place on the 6th March at the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, part of the WOW Festival, and we are grateful to Jude Kelly and the Southbank Team for including us in the WOW family.  Huge thank you to broadcaster Samira Ahmed; Livia Firth, Creative Director of Eco Age;  Kirsteen Tait, The Young Fellow; journalist and professor John Owen; Nazek Ramadan, Director of Migrant Voice; previous winners Cynthia Masiyiwa and  Luljeta Nuzi; Fiona Dawe CBE; Roland Schilling UNHCR UK Representative. We are grateful for their good will and enormous contribution as judges and presenters. The judges who helped us select our winners were: Theo Tait, Natasha Walter and Mark Easton on Media Panel with John Owen. Beth Crosland, prof. Heaven Crawley and Fiona Dawe on Champion Panel and Pat Elsmie with Kirsteen Tait and Cynthia Masiyiwa on the WOMA panel.

We are grateful to Women for Refugee Women and ROSA Fund for Women and Girls for supporting the awards and to Beth Crosland and Mr. and Mrs. Crosland for becoming our first Friends of the Awards through their generous donations.

We are indebted to our amazing winners:

Lillian Seenoi, a refugee from Kenya, was recognised as Woman of the Year for her work in Northern Ireland with the North West Migrant Forum (NWMF). Tatiana Garavito was recognised as Young Woman of the Year. She is Director of Latin American Women’s Rights Service (LAWRS). Diana Nammi received a special jury award. Diana is Director of the Iranian Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation (IKWRO), and the Jury recognised her courageous work to protect vulnerable women from so-called ‘honour’ killing. The Champion award was given to the AIRE Centre, which for twenty years has helped ensure that individuals and families benefit from the rights they are entitled to under European law. This year the Media Award (Print) went to A.A. Gill for his series of articles on refugees in DRC, Jordan and Lampedusa published in The Sunday Times Magazine. The Media Award for Broadcasting went to Sue Lloyd-Roberts for her BBC Newsnight film on women fleeing female genital mutilation. Special recognition was given to the Evening Standard, for its consistent reporting and campaigning work on female genital mutilation.

We are grateful to our funders who make our work possible and provide support and guidance though numerous challenges we experience on a daily basis:

AB Charitable Trust;  The Barrow Cadbury Trust; Citizens UK;  Comic Relief, EU Commission, Henry Smith Charity; Kensington and Chelsea NHS; Metropolitan Support Trust; Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea; The City Bridge Trust; Transforming Local Infrastructure Lottery Fund; Trust for London; Unbound Philanthropy; UNHCR and West London CCG.                        

We are grateful to Mr and Mrs Blumenau, London Churches Refugee Network and many others for their donations which are used to aid vulnerable people directly. In December 2013, our long-standing supporter Dr Helen Sapper died aged 78. For many years Dr Helen trained and mentored more than 400 refugee and migrant doctors at the Forum, following more than 30 years as a general practitioner in Acton. We are very grateful to Helen’s family and friends who, in her memory made donations to the Forum.

Last, but not least, special and huge thanks to our mentors and mentees, several hundred partners and colleagues in public and voluntary sector in the UK and abroad, thousands of members and supporters, followers on twitter and Facebook and the army of people of good will who make our work possible but more importantly provide a lifeline for people in need.

We do not have space to list all your names, but we must say THANK YOU to 40 of our most dedicated volunteers and interns in the last year.

Agnes Swamba, Amy Childs, Angela Coles, Charlotte Whelan, Cordelia Kanif, Cristina Patriarca, Eleonore Tapin Youf, Gemma Hyslop, Hayley Gardiner, Idil Akinci, Ilaria Bartolini, Ioana Dumitrescu, Jane Shackman, Jeffery Samuelson, Katie Nguyen, Kristina Ousmanova, Laura Silvello, Margaret Siegel, Marie-Louise Weissbach, Martina Andreana, Milca Colombo, Mulugeta Fikadu, Muna Ahmed, Nadia Paola Sampong, Naila Mirza, Niresha Lavanya Umaichelvam, Olga Sergeeva, Onome Ugbeye, Panos Christodolou, Sanaa Lazizi, Sasa Sofilj, Sidra Abdulkadir Mohamud, Sonja Zivak , Stephen Ugbeye, Ujwala Jayaram, Varsha Jagadesham, Zeljko Bralo, Clea Wiebenga, Sarah Boukhary and Omid Namdarfar.

Short film from our 20th Birthday Celebration, produced by Julie France, can be seen here: 

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