Participation

Our community work is underpinned by the value of participation: the basic right of migrants to participate in decisions and structures that affect their lives. We strive to create opportunities and spaces for migrants to participate in the organisation and at a broader community and societal level. Through these collective spaces, the Migrants Forum, and action and campaign groups, migrants meet to discuss issues affecting them and to take action together. Where possible, people coming through our Resource Centre are referred to collective spaces, supporting the move from individual problems to collective experiences and analysis. Click here to return to Community Work portal.

  • Practice Principles

    MRCI Community Work Practice Graphics by Form.ie

    Participation is about the involvement of groups who experience social exclusion, marginalisation and discrimination in decision-making, planning and action at different levels, from the local to the global. It can be viewed as a continuum of activity that can start from information sharing through capacity building and empowerment to active engagement and meaningful participation in democratic processes.

    MRCI Community Work Practice Graphics by Form.ieIt recognises that people have the right to participate in decisions and structures that affect their lives. In working to promote participation it is vital that inherent power imbalances are acknowledged and addressed. Ultimately the participation of marginalised and disadvantaged communities should contribute towards bringing about social change through appropriately informed policies and processes, to the benefit of all.


  • Community workers have a responsibility to


      • Ensure that work to build effective participation is at the core of community work practice.
      • Work towards the development and achievement of meaningful participation and power sharing.
      • Support communities to gain the skills necessary for full participation.
      • Ensure work is based on the needs of the community.
      • Support and promote the development of decision-making structures that are open, accessible and inclusive.
      • Recognise and address barriers, including structural barriers, to meaningful and effective participation at all levels.
      • Seek to ensure that strategies for participation are inclusive of diversity in society, particularly in terms of gender and minority group participation.
      • Formulate strategies that go beyond consultation and create a policy context for full participation in governance

     

    MRCI Community Work Practice Graphics by Form.ieIllustrations by Form Design


  • Your role as a community worker working with migrants involves:

     

    • MRCI Community Work Practice Graphics by Form.ieIn getting started inform yourself of the lived realities of migrants and their families in Ireland
    • Build relationships built on trust on solidarity
    • Build solidarity within the broader community
    • Engage with migrant communities
    • Build the critical and active participation of migrants in the work of the organisation, locally and beyond
    • Maintain contact and support to encourage participation
    • Create opportunities for participation
    • Understand and overcome the barriers to participation (time, resources etc)
    • Recognise immediate needs of people you are working with and move beyond
    • Build participation in collective spaces i.e. establishment of groups

    Illustrations by Form Design


  • The Migrants’ Forum

     

    The MRCI established the migrants forum in 2003 to create a welcoming and informal collective “space” for migrant workers to get together. Its aim is to encourage migrants who we encounter through our Resource Centre to move beyond their own individual concerns and experiences towards collective action. This space provides Migrant workers with reliable information about their rights and can be a source of friendship and support. It is also a direct route for migrants to get involved in campaigns for change. This meets at least four times a year. To date, thousands of migrant workers have participated in over forty meetings of the forum, which are held outside of standard working hours to facilitate maximum attendance.

    The Forum has served a number of functions in MRCI’s community work over the years. It has created an important collective space for migrants to participate in the work of MRC. It is participative, collective and a more active relationship that required of a service user. Focusing on issues relevant to migrants most at risk of exclusion an discrimination, this conscious creation and organisation of the forum in turn affords MRCI the opportunity to outreach to migrants and their families, build relationships and keep up to date of critical issues.

    MRCI Community Work Practice Graphics by Form.ieThe forum allows us to identify collective concerns which ultimately feed into our policy positions and campaigns. The forum allows potential migrant leaders to naturally emerge, and we nurture this process by offering training in leadership, public speaking and lobbying. The forum also has an important solidarity-building dimension, organising social events such as celebrations of campaign wins and an annual International Migrants Day celebration on December 18th. Outside of forum meetings, individuals are encouraged to come to our Drop-In Centre for information and support about their personal situations.


  • Learning points for building participation


    • MRCI Community Work Practice Graphics by Form.ieAdvertise the forum one month in advance to migrant communities
    • Flyers made available in simple straight forward language
    • Let people know through word of mouth and networks
    • Set a relevant agenda; be informed about what is going on for migrants in their lives. Select a topic or theme well in advance
    • Target people you know will be interested in issue addressed/topic covered e.g. being undocumented, changes to work permit system.
    • A series of Know Your Rights sessions (social welfare, tenancy, voting,
      immigration)
    • Sharing critical immigration and employment permit updates and developments
    • Face to face direct contact with decision makers and politicians on migrant issues
    • Use participative methodologies. Ensure amidst inputs and information sharing there are opportunities for people to get to know each other and the organisation. Ice breakers, discussion and working groups are important here
    • Capture the contact details of people attending through registration
    • Mind the logistics but not overly so. Create a warm welcoming environment in an accessible building. Cheap and cheerful works well as opposed to formal and intimidatingMRCI Community Work Practice Graphics by Form.ie
    • Follow up with people to build contact and relationships by sending on promised information and by inputting new names into the database for future contact
    • Identify leaders emerging and persons interested in participating more heavily in the work of the forum and beyond
    • Feedback the discussion and analysis coming from this collective and participative space with the organisation.

     Illustrations by Form Design


  • The Migrant Forum


  • We have over ten years' experience of using community work to empower migrants and build collective action. Here are some of the resources we've developed over the years - please help yourself! Click the red title to view each document.

    Sample Sign-In SheetSounds simple, but a sign-in sheet at meetings allows important follow up work with migrants when your building contacts and relationships

    Outreach Meeting Agenda: Outreach sessions play an important part in enabling individual and sometimes very marginalised migrants to participate in a collective agenda and in campaigns. The Justice for the Undocumented (JFU) campaign shares a typical one here.

    Participation & Leadership Framework: Check out MRCI’s participation and leadership framework, where we map the levels of migrant participation and leadership in our work and campaigns. This helps in organising opportunities and building leadership and participation.

    For more community work resources, please click the Resources tab of the Community Work portal.