London RCO Forum

I have had contact with the London Refugee Community Organisations’ (RCO) Advocacy Forum for years, in their different guises, ever since I was working at the Refugee Council back in 2007-11. It is such an important initiative bringing together refugee led community groups across London and building a united and strong voice on behalf of their communities.

And it is particularly important because there are many organisations across London, including statutory organisations, which are very keen to develop their understanding of refugee communities and how they might need to develop their services. And the Forum presents them with an opportunity to hear from a united voice.

I had done some work with them a couple years ago as they had sought to develop their theory of change for their forum. And I was then invited back to help them think through how they might deliver a specific advocacy campaign on a particular issue.

There was a certain degree of reticence amongst the Forum as they had had advocacy campaigns training before, so we were not starting with a blank sheet of paper. And it felt particularly important that we base our workshops on helping them to develop advocacy around a particular issue, as opposed to running more general training around the concepts of advocacy campaigns.

I was incredibly motivated to witness their response to my practical advocacy tools. We covered a lot of the ground that I have referred to in previous blog posts such as developing an elevator pitch, an influence tree, as well as thinking through responding to opposition messages, and beginning to develop a future story that they wanted to make happen to bring about change on their issue.

It was also fascinating to observe that in the midst of many competing policy priorities, there appeared to be a growing consensus amongst Forum members that their key priority was developing advocacy campaigns around access to housing.

Having run a couple of sessions online, we are now looking to have a face-to-face workshop, and it will be exciting to see if we can pull together these different advocacy campaign tools into a tangible and specific advocacy campaign to help them push for change for their communities.

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