New Support for Refugees

The newly established "Manchester Refugee Support Network" (MRSN) is a Refugee Community Development Project serving the needs of refugee communities across Manchester. The network emerged as an idea in 1994 with members of refugee communities coming together with the aim of serving their communities' needs by coordinating with local authority and other service providers.

Somali women contribute to conference workshop

The network has received Lottery and European Union funding and now has an office in Moss Side with a coordinator (Liz Rutherford) and advice worker (Ahmed Ballah). The network runs training courses, on subjects ranging from management and fund raising to arts and crafts, for members of the refugee communities. The aim is to build and empower the communities and their organisations.

On St Valentine's Day, the Bosnian community held a successful celebration in Longsight with over 500 people attending an evening of music, dance and food.

The network is planning to hold a Festival in the autumn to celebrate the diversity and experience of refugees living and working in Manchester. Everyone will be welcome to join the event, please contact MRSN for details.

The North West has become a second home to over 8,000 refugees over the last three decades. Asylum seekers and refugees fleeing brutal dictatorships, genocide, war, social and civil turmoil, and geo-political disaster across the Middle East, south America, south-east Asia, Europe and Africa appeal for respite in Britain. People of all ages and backgrounds have settled here and now contribute to the diverse and vibrant multi-cultural society that Manchester is famous for.

However, life's daily struggle often continues as refugees face employment discrimination, institutional racism, social prejudice and cultural insensitivity, with families often living in poor quality housing and experiencing isolation and deprivation. Representatives of the refugee communities are now ensuring their voices are heard and that the needs of their communities are met. As their groups develop and thrive, they intend to have greater input into the major agencies and service providers by working together with organisations dedicated to black and other ethnic minority communities.

Manchester Refugee Support Network (0161 232 7420, 0161 226 6134)

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