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.
The 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.