Syrian Refugees are the Leaders of Tomorrow
“In the past few years, we the Syrian diaspora have at times felt empowered and purpose-driven, and at other times frustrated or doubtful of our agency and potential.
This course has rejuvenated my innate belief that we all still have a role to play in benefitting Syria and the diaspora – and has equipped me with invaluable tools, insight and networks to be an effective Syrian leader.”
– Participant, Syrian Diaspora Leaders Programme
There are currently around 10,000 Syrian refugees settled in the UK, making up a diaspora which is spread sporadically across the country, making connecting with other members of their community difficult.
The UK’s resettlement of Syrian refugees echoes the global situation; just as poorer nations like Lebanon and Turkey host far more Syrian refugees than richer ones, even within the UK, poorer areas like Yorkshire, the North East and areas of Scotland host a higher proportion of Syrian refugees than more affluent areas.
This means that even once asylum seekers have received refugee status within the UK, they are often living in impoverished areas, struggling to find work and often living in areas which are far away from other Syrians who they can connect with to navigate their situation together and plan for a better future for Syria and its diaspora.
Penny Appeal have been working alongside Common Purpose to empower Syrian refugees to use their skills, talents and networks to benefit Syria and their own diaspora community. We recently held a four day long Syrian Diaspora Leadership Programme with 30 Syrian refugees from a variety of backgrounds across the public, private and not for profit sectors across the UK.
Each of these people is already a budding leader, activist or pioneer in their own community; we wanted to build on their experience, creating a new network for these individuals, giving them training on leadership and cultural intelligence, and stretching their analytical and creative skills.
Common Purpose’s expert trainers have delivered leadership programmes in 52 cities for thousands of prospective leaders; their track record speaks volumes. After receiving their training, 96% of participants reported that they felt better able to lead a diverse team and make connections with others.
For the Syrian diaspora in the UK, a community which has been repeatedly disempowered by war, poverty and a difficult resettlement, we need to encourage and empower them to unlock their potential and become the leaders that both Syria and the UK really need.
Our leadership helped participants to “Lead Beyond Authority”, learning to confidently lead, even in situations where they may not have formal authority, as is often the case in diaspora communities, as well as learning about cultural intelligence, building new networks and collaboratively thinking of ideas to improve the situation for Syria and its diaspora now, as well as dreaming of better possible futures for the nation.
“Thank you for providing a space for diaspora leaders to network, organise and develop their skills. It has enabled us to move forward together to work towards helping Syria in the ways that we can.”
- Participant, Syrian Diaspora Leadership Programme
Participants also had the opportunity to pitch ideas and create prototypes of their concepts. One person had the idea of creating an app geared towards Syrians in the UK providing translation services, nearby Syrian community centres, Arabic schools, mosques and more useful information to connect Syrians who may be feeling isolated in the UK.
Another participant came up with the idea for The Freedom and Democracy Studies Centre; a non-profit organisation consisting of a research centre and a capacity-building centre, focusing on governance and democratisation in Syria, as well as facilitating and inspiring Syrians to start up social movements and parties to rebuild a future Syria.
At Penny Appeal, we know that migrant communities are a huge part of what makes Britain great. We’ve supported refugees in the UK through food distributions for a number of years now, and this leadership programme is a step further in making sure that those who have been forced to flee are made to feel welcome here in the UK, and empowered so that they can thrive in their communities and beyond.
It was truly amazing to see Syrian leaders and change-makers coming together from across the country to collaborate, learn and gain confidence in themselves and their ideas, which will, Insha’Allah, one day become a reality. We have no doubt that the Syrian diaspora will play a major part in creating a better Syria, and a better UK, too.
You can find out more about Penny Appeal’s work at Home here, or keep reading about some of our most exciting UK programmes below:
FRIDAY 19 JUL 2019