Rounding off the Toolkit festival season in Truro 

Events | Toolkit 10

As you may know, 2023 marks 10 years of the Right to Remain Toolkit. To celebrate, our team has been travelling the length of the country, visiting areas known as advice deserts – where little to no legal aid is available – to share and promote the Toolkit and make new connections of solidarity on the ground with grassroots groups. Our journey has taken us from Belfast to Devon (virtually) to Bradford to London to Newcastle to Worcester, and on 29th September, we rounded off our festival tour in Truro, Cornwall.

Why Cornwall?

Cornwall had been on our radar since February, when I first spoke with Rae Preston,  Coordinator with Cornwall Refugee Rights Network (CRRN). CRRN brings together like-minded individuals across Cornwall to mobilise in support of refugees and asylum seekers, both within the county and beyond, with its primary objectives including promoting social inclusion for refugees and asylum seekers. They also raise awareness locally of the issues facing this community through education and the promotion of human rights, and promoting equality and diversity through the coordination of activities and events. 

Rae explained there was already a support framework in place in Cornwall, as the Syrian and Ukrainian resettlement schemes meant that families were already accessing support. However, over the past twelve months, contingency hotels were cropping up, and the need for knowledge about the asylum system and UK law and policy was on the rise. 

It was important for us to travel to Cornwall in person. Due to its location geographically, Cornwall is more isolated than other parts of the UK, and fostering new connections with local and grassroots organisations was a priority for Right to Remain. Most essential though was the need to facilitate a workshop in which groups and individuals working around the region could come together, network, share struggles and best practise, and build radical solidarity together.

What happened at the workshop?

The workshop was hosted in partnership with CRRN at the very church in which their organisation was born. We welcomed groups, organisations and individuals from across Cornwall, with significant turnout from the voluntary and grassroots sector, who were unified in their solidarity with migrants, refugees and people seeking asylum in the region. 

As well as our staple workshop activities, including stages of the asylum process and highlighting the difference between legal advice and support, we trialled a brand new exercise. Reflecting on feedback from a recent workshop with Refugees at Home, where it was suggested that we incorporate further interactive exercises around using the Toolkit, we introduced a new segment where we asked participants to find certain information in the Toolkit.

Each group had three (challenging) questions to answer, and had to navigate through different pages of the Toolkit to find the answers. 

Not only did this work well as an ice breaker, it also meant that participants were more comfortable with using the guide, it gave them more ownership on using it, and allowed them to share it more effectively. Additionally, it meant we could cover further topics on the asylum system, and go into specific issues in more detail.

How was the event received?

The overwhelming feedback was that the event was informative, engaging and enjoyable, and there were calls to repeat workshops of this type in other locations across Cornwall. One participant told us it was the first in person event they had been to since the pandemic, and that being in a room with each other made all the difference and allowed for new connections to be made. 

This is exactly the aim of our Toolkit festivals – to bring communities together to build knowledge and power, and to fight the injustices of the asylum and immigration system as one. We couldn’t have asked for a better workshop to round off our festival tour!

Thank you to all Toolkit festival attendees!

Our Toolkit festivals have provided a much needed opportunity to build stronger relationships with our community partners, while sharing the value of the Toolkit with old and new allies. Thank you to all the groups, organisations, individuals who participated, and joined us in building new connections of radical solidarity in the migration justice movement.

We are continuing to run legal education workshops – if you want to request a workshop for your organisation / area, you can fill out our request form below.

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