26th March 2011 – Portsmouth
Portsmouth African Oasis (PAO) has hosted a two-day long multi-organisation learning and sharing information forum five months after its launch of what was then Zambian Oasis. The groups that were represented at the event included the Slough-based Forum, Slough Refugee Support, Portsmouth Racial Equality Network Organisation (PRENO) and the hosts PAO.
Every new organisation needs to raise funds, have in place effective management structures, have a defined plan for the delivery of its services and define its own distinguishing identity in order to effectively deliver on its objectives. The seminar was a result of ongoing attempts to address these issues as PAO establishes its foothold in the community. The best way was to enlist the mentorship of existing and successful organisations in a learning and sharing forum.
The seminar consisted of a series of preparatory presentations, sharing of experiences and stories, feedback, evaluations, suggestions and signposting. The first session was a meeting with Refugee Action manager Mike Brown at Venture Towers in Portsmouth, Fratton on Friday the 25th of March 2011. Mike, who after initial introductions briefed the audience on the work that RA has done, the state of the current level of services in view of the changes that the government is implementing and what it means for voluntary organisations and charities. This was followed by another briefing session by PRENO representive Taki Jaffer at their offices also in Fratton.
The peak of the event was the general meeting held at the Premier Inn, North Harbour in Portsmouth where all the delagates shared experiences and learnt from each other. Moving testimonies of experiences were recounted. It was one of the places where the shedding of a tear was not a sign of weakness and it was okay to do so in full view of everyone.
Members unanimously agreed that a multi agency approach was a necessary element in the quest for community empowerment and delegates made a fresh commitment to pursue collaboration actively.
The meeting was adjourned at 14:00 and a group photo session followed both inside and outside the hotel.