On April 2, OneVoice Europe Education Director Sharon Alsoodani ran a training session for Counselors at the Tavistock and Portman National Health Service Foundation Trust. The counselors work with refugees seeking to make their home in the UK. The refugees have a variety of perspectives on Middle East narratives, including about the UK’s involvement - both historically and in the present day. OVE sought to help the counselors understand the complexities surrounding various narratives, particularly of the Middle East.
Alsoodani and a member of London’s Somali community ran the training session, where the group discussed the background, views, and involvement of refugees from a number of different countries with regards to conflict in Syria, Israel-Palestine, Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan, Egypt, Libya, and Kashmir, and British foreign policy related to those conflicts.
Particular emphasis was put on the need to encourage constructive and non-violent expressions of political activism within the British system so that UK citizens and residents from all backgrounds have a meaningful voice within our society. Examples of OneVoice’s grassroots political activities in Israel and Palestine were used to demonstrate how positive civil society empowerment can be, particularly among the youth, and how they could non-violently affect change. The group concluded that young immigrants who are making their home in our country should be guided and encouraged to participate politically and become an active and valued part of our society – which includes having a voice regarding Middle East issues. Participants gave feedback about how stimulating and informative the session had been.
“We are global citizens in the 21st Century - what happens in the Middle East affects us in Britain and vice-versa,” said Alsoodani. “We all have a responsibility to be informed and active citizens and to ensure that everyone in our democratic society has the opportunity to participate equally.”