Last Friday, MRCF warmly welcomed Deputy Mayor Richard Barnes from GLA and Cllr. Tim Ahern from RBKC to show how integration and mentoring and volunteering work in practice. MRCF staff gave a tour of the Resource Centre, explained our many programmes, and discussed some of the challenges of our work. MRCF member organisations also met with our guests and discussed their work with their respective communities.
The best part of the day was our frank discussion about why MRCF’s model of working with communities and volunteers is successful at facilitating integration. Mentoring and volunteering really works through one to one support- one person helping another-because people begin to feel like they belong and are part of a community.
Some of the concerns that were raised around the room centred on extremely poor quality English language classes and that community groups should be recognised for building the crucial bridges between their communities and mainstream.
MRCF was proud to show how our Community Development, Mentoring and Volunteering programme, Digital Activism course, and policy work are used to strengthen and empower migrant and refugee communities. MRCF volunteers were particularly recognised as crucial to our work, both to increase small charities capacity and give volunteers opportunities to gain experience and participate in our work.
On the same day, we received news of a big victory from our Engage to Change policy work. After publishing our report, Should Citizenship Be Earned Through Compulsory Volunteering?, in May 2010, we worked to influence key policy makers in order to drop the Earned Citizenship proposal. Last Friday, Home Secretary Theresa May announced that, indeed, the policy will be dropped and that the policy was “too complicated, bureaucratic and, in the end, ineffective.”