‘’We should all recall that what unites us is humanity, and strive to support one another, irrespective of background.’’ Mr Lazizi, Migrants Organise founding member
Migrants Organise recently celebrated our birthday 25th birthday. To connect us with our roots, we’ve invited Ali Lazizi one of our founding members and longstanding trustee to share about his work with The West London Moroccan Widadia and the reasons that compelled him to establish Migrants Organise (then called Migrants and Refugees Communities Forum) alongside colleagues in Somali, Ethiopian and Sudanese community groups.
Ali, affectionately known to Migrants Organise staff as Mr Lazizi, is a regular in the office and we all enjoy his delicious mint tea on a weekly basis. Over the years he has guided our work including, included Moroccan Memories in Britain, which saw us capture 100 testimonies as an oral and visual history of Moroccan migration to the UK.
Mr Lazizi’s legacy doesn’t end there. His daughter, Bochra, has also played a key part in the organisation, providing incredible voluntary support to our Community Programme case work team.
Tell us about yourself:
I am a British Moroccan and have lived in North Kensington with my family for over 40 years. Strengthening communities is of great importance to me which is why I invest my time in both Migrants Organise and The West London Moroccan Widadia.
Tell us a bit about the work you do with the Moroccan community in North Kensington:
I, alongside others of Moroccan origin, founded the Widadia in 1979 to help the disadvantaged in the community, irrespective of ethnic background. We arranged various programmes such as supplementary classes and extra curricular activities for children from low income backgrounds, English classes for migrants, home visits to the elderly and annual outings for those in the community. We still continue with much of this work.
In 1993, Migrants Organise was established and the work we were able to do for the community was expanded.
You are one of the founding members of Migrants Organise (then MRCF). What promoted you to get involved?
Having already been a founding member of one charity, seeing first hand the fruits of such labour I understood the importance of such charitable organisations and we as community workers were keen to invest our time and efforts with refugees and migrants to the UK.
After observing a need for specific services tailored to the need of migrants and refugees, other community workers and myself decided to establish the MRCF (Migrant and Refugees Community Forum) now known as Migrants Organise. As migrants to the UK ourselves myself and my co-founders were able to sympathise with the newer members of our community who had recently arrived.
To start with we had only an idea and high aspirations but with our zeal and passion we were able to take our small idea and transform it into what we know today.
Such success did not come easily and we have come a long way from our days of struggling to secure funding. None of the success we enjoy today would have been possible without the many hours invested by our dedicated volunteers and staff over the years.
How have you seen Migrants Organise progress over the years? What are you proud of?
Entering the office to find it bursting with community spirit, all united by a desire to help one another is what I feel most proud of. I am proud to see what was once only a vision come to fruition.
What advice do you have to community workers like yourself?
Firstly, I’d like to encourage others to invest their time in their communities, the rewards are immeasurable. Whilst myself and others know first hand that often it requires many hours and hard work to achieve your goals, I’d encourage others not to allow this to deter them. Finally, we should all recall that what unites us is humanity, and we should support one another, irrespective of background.
Wise words from one of our founders, thank you for all your hard work and for paving the way for others to follow.