Last Tuesday, Right to Remain ventured (albeit digitally) to the South West, to host their second Toolkit Festival with organisations from Devon. Partnering with Refugee Support Devon and Devon and Cornwall Refugee Support, we welcomed over 15 participants from local and regional groups, as well as individual volunteers working to support those in hotels, to our interactive safe space to learn, share knowledge, and connect.
Devon is admittedly a region unfamiliar to Right to Remain, a reason why we felt it offered a perfect opportunity for an event celebrating 10 years of the Toolkit; it allowed us to introduce ourselves to an area who may not have encountered us, connect with new allies and strengthen the bonds of radical solidarity between local groups, and, importantly, promote our Toolkit to new users who need it.
Devon is identified as an ‘advice desert’, a location in which the proportion of those qualified to give legal advice, to those seeking it, is vastly falling short. A key teaching of our Toolkit is how to support those seeking asylum without crossing into the threshold of giving advice. Legal support is something anyone who feels comfortable enough can do, and we wanted to make this a key component of our workshop, to allow participants to feel confident to give legal support in practical ways.
What went down in the workshop?
The interactive session covered three main topics; how to use the Toolkit, stages of the asylum process, and of course, the difference between legal advice and legal support. The activities and discussion were met with dedicated engagement from attendees, (with the section on legal advice vs support hotly debated in breakout rooms), and we realised having a slightly smaller group enabled more time for concentrated discussion and questions, something that may have been more difficult with larger numbers in a digital space.
The session not only provided an opportunity for Right to Remain to connect with new groups and individuals, but also for these groups to network amongst each other. While we would’ve liked this to happen in person (watch this space!), it was promising that many attendees stayed on after the workshop ended to introduce themselves and their organisation, and discuss the needs they are seeing across areas of Devon. Following the event, we received some of our most uplifting feedback to date, and were sent beautiful examples of our new allies practising radical solidarity within their own communities.
Fostering new connections encourages solidarity, something that is more important than ever in the context of the hostile environment we are operating in. We are thrilled to have met new organisations in Devon, and to have been able to expand the reach of our Toolkit, spreading radical solidarity to yet more areas of the UK.
Stayed tuned for where our next Toolkit Festival will be… hint: this location was the original birthplace of the Toolkit itself!
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