Basis Project South West Region Conference - Refugee Council
November 10, 2010

Basis Project South West Region Conference

On 29 September 2010 the Basis Project South West region conference brought together refugee community organisations (RCOs), funders and second tier organisations to share learning and experiences on income generation. The primary objective was to provide RCOs with an overview of the different means of raising income.

Video highlights from the day are below. Two more videos from the conference – in which Jane Houben, Grants and Investments Manager at Bristol City Council, provides an introduction to commissioning – are also available. 

 Presentations from the conference (pdf files):



South West Region Conference

Nuwa Serunjogi – Organisational Development Officer, the Basis Project

Today’s seminar is entitled ‘Capacity building for refugee community organisations (RCOs) to generate income’. This theme is important for me because I currently work with 11 or 12 RCOs in the South West – in Bristol, Swindon and Plymouth – and across the board there is one common challenge and that is to try and find sufficient income to run their operations and fulfil their missions.

Helen Todd – Projects Initiatives Manager, the Basis Project

What’s really important about the Basis Project is that we’re supporting RCOs and, at the end of the day, that’s supporting refugees such as many of the people in this room, to look at the needs of their communities and to develop, manage and run fantastic projects that can have a fantastic impact not only on the communities for whom they are run but also on the wider community.

Olivia Gore – Big Lottery Fund

We call ourselves an outcomes funder, so we’re interested in the difference that will be brought about by the project you want us to fund. Before you start planning you need to consider three questions: what difficulties do the people in your community face, why do they face these difficulties, and what needs to change in order to address that issue. People might be in need because of where they live or situations they face, but once you understand that need you can work out what you need to do to help them change things.

Don’t assume that the people reading your application know about your area. The grants officers are based in Birmingham and Newcastle and they won’t necessarily know about your local area – you need to spell it out and make it really clear for them.

Jean Marie-Nsana – African House Community, Plymouth

Our organisation tries to help refugees and asylum seekers in our community and to help them integrate. Lots of people get isolated and we try to find a way to help them to get involved and participate in the community.

I think social enterprise will be interesting for us. It’s difficult having to wait for funding, or getting funding that runs out, so that’s why running a social enterprise could be good.

Marina David – Barrow Cadbury Trust

It’s important for groups to try and keep abreast of what’s happening by going to local neighbourhood office and ward meetings and seeing how you can get together with like-minded organisations and get your voices heard. It’s also a good idea to look at what different sorts of support you can get and not just relying on grant funding. Look at generating your own income by setting up a community interest company – it can make your organisation more sustainable since you won’t be reliant on grant funding.

Tamdour Saliem – Refugee Women of Bristol

The main challenge for women in accessing information and opportunities is [not speaking the English] language and having low levels of education and skills. As an organisation the main challenge we face is funding. The local authority shifted from giving three-year funding to one-year funding and from grants to commissioning, which make it harder a small organisation like us to secure money. The competition for funds has also increased. As a small organisation we really need long-term funds; we can’t sustain, develop and improve as an organisation when we are funded year-by-year.

Alice Meason – Quartet Community Foundation

I can’t tell you the once secret about applying to Community Foundations whereby you’ll get our money, other than saying be clear about what you do and what you want to do with the money and how – be quite specific. The best thing to do is contact the Community Foundation in your area and talk to them and find out what they do. Because we give out smaller sums of money we try to keep the application process quite simple.

Christian Kayembe and he is the Chair for the Betwabu Association

I found this workshop interesting because I have learned a lot from other people and from funders, as well.

Liban Obsiye – Amana Education Trust

When I first started I was asked why I wanted to work at Amana and I said the reason I wanted to work with them was that they didn’t want to play political games, they were really serious about integration and really cared about Somali people’s ability to engage with and contribute to society.

One of the challenges that face us is that we are facing competition from bigger providers who have greater resources and can meet the financial criteria. They have reserves and buildings, which we don’t have. All we have is our volunteers and our passion, and you can’t put a price on that. But what we are being asked to do is to put a price on that passion – it’s a passion that will ensure that the people who need support will get support and will continue on their path to become successful citizens. Most of the refugees are very successful before they get here, but when they get here their qualifications are almost worthwhile and there’s a lack of support for them. The support they want is not in big offices in the centre of Bristol it’s from small organisations and local people in their community who were once refugees themselves and have a real understanding and an urge to help these new arrivals.