Visioning and Transformation, the ongoing evolution of Refugee Action – Colchester

Refugee Action – Colchester has evolved as a network of volunteers, partners and friendships across Colchester and beyond.   We have become a trusted provider of help to people seeking refuge in Colchester, often called upon informally and formally by statutory services, voluntary organisations and individuals.  So far we rely solely on donations and in particular the full time, unpaid work of key volunteer workers. This situation is unsustainable and as a group, we are seeking to change and develop to meet changing needs, creating a Community Interest Company, (CIC).

As we are growing, and maybe even growing up, into a CIC we are making changes and getting more organised.  But we are very sure that we don’t want to lose our heart and our purpose.  We want to change to better meet the needs of the present – new clients, new context, but the same founding principles. We have talked and thought deeply, visualised and used visual images to identify the organisation in our minds.  What is Refugee Action – Colchester?  What is the fundamental purpose of the organisation?

As a team we have been working to explore the new context.  We asked ourselves questions: are we courageous; do we see the whole person; what we want to hold onto; what we need to change?  By working together we hope we can agree and internalise our understanding so that we can assess what actions serve our fundamental aims in any situation. As we talk and reflect so honestly we are finding that practical changes fall into place.

Things are becoming clearer.  For example, we realise that there is a whole strand of work on mental health which is needed and volunteers and partners are coming forward.  Also, work on immigration issues is called for and we will be making sure we have staff trained to do this.

One of the aims of getting organised is to be more able to coordinate and use the wealth of offers of help and the skills of volunteers.  I hope we can all make use of this kind of visualisation and questioning together for a better understanding of the dynamic between staff, partners, friends in the organisation and people accessing our help.  We want to continue to evolve and to ensure that our actions in Refugee Action – Colchester will be in line with our values, beliefs and life experiences and will serve to meet the needs of the present as it unfolds.

Rosalind Scott
Chair RA-C