In September, Sophie Sinclair, CREME Centre Manager, led and delivered an informative session on community engagement with Mosese Dakunivosa, Citizens UK Birmingham.
The session was part of the lunchtime learning programme for the new ADITI course, sponsored by the Registrar to develop BAME staff, identified by their Managers as having potential to be future leaders.
The importance of being part of a civic university and connecting with the community both locally and globally to transform it for the better was discussed as well as how both research and knowledge meet this end. The value of all employees, not just Academics, being part of this mission, was emphasised, together with the reciprocal benefits and intrinsic rewards of engaging with community groups and organisations.
The University’s membership of Citizen’s UK, initiated by Pro VC Saul Becker, together with the on-going and vital commitment to civic engagement was discussed with interest with those in attendance.
The important work of Citizens UK was presented, explaining their work around community mobilisation and how University staff could get involved and support a variety of Citizens UK activities, not only sharing and developing their own skills and knowledge, but also increasing the University’s reach, influence and IMPACT with the local community.
Mosese, currently an intern at Citizens UK Birmingham, spoke eloquently about his personal journey, overcoming extremely difficult times and displacement as a refugee and single parent to working with Citizens UK and the reward of being part of such a positive and pro-active organisation. Mosese invited those present to get involved with a variety of activities, currently listed on the 'connect with us' page and how important this involvement would be to the community as well as the individuals themselves.
Sophie shared her moving experience of mentoring a refugee several years ago. After being forced to leave his country for his own safety, he had arrived in the UK from Eritrea, feeling frightened, nervous and lonely. She spoke about spending just an hour every week with him, but how this time and interest had a great positive impact on her mentee who studied English and eventually completed a degree and now works as a social worker, as he was so keen to help and support other people in the UK.
The session received excellent feedback from the participants and the course organisers. So much so, that when presented to the Birmingham Professional Leads, it was agreed that the course should be rolled out to Professional Services staff across the University in the coming months.