A few weeks ago I was at a European conference in Budapest attending on behalf of City of Sanctuary in the UK – there were people there from across Europe looking at positive ways to communicate the importance of offering safety to refugees seeking protection.
The key question was posed: how to respond to the increasingly anti-refugee sentiment of the media across Europe. My view was that the best response will always be at the local level. We will always struggle to compete with the resources available to some of the media. But what we should do is to encourage the development of movements of local people and groups coming together locally to make a difference.
I’ve written before about the increasing power of movements in society. For many of us brought up in hierarchical organisations these new movements can be challenging as they are so very different. There is no rigid structure or formal leadership, but rather people and groups coming together to share a common purpose and manifesting their commitment through actions in different ways. In the UK the growth of towns and cities of sanctuary is an example of part of a growing movement.
I am becoming increasingly interested in ideas to support and nurture the development of movements and in particular how to support enthusiastic people at a local level organising to bring people together to make a difference. At a local level the fight back to ensure that refugees are welcomed is well under way despite what you might read in the media. I am really keen to explore how such initiatives can be nurtured and supported. Any ideas?