Friday, 22 May 2009

A Brighter Future for 5 Young People in Manchester

CITIZENS for Sanctuary is supporting Regional Campaign Action Teams (RCATs) across the UK to take action to implement the Independent Asylum Commission’s recommendation.

Here, Rebecca Murray of Brighter Futures, part of the Regional Campaign Action Team in Manchester, writes about the negotiation training which helped a group of young people to win a successful negotiation with a Vice Chancellor:

"Brighter Futures is made up of young refugees and people seeking sanctuary speaking out on issues they feel strongly about. One big concern the group have is access to education. Many of them do well in their A levels, only to be told that they have to pay international fees (which can be up to three or four time more expensive than home fees) if they want to go to university.

Brighter Futures had already successfully lobbied two universities to accept a quota of asylum seekers as home fees paying students. We had two more meetings with universities on the horizon and so Citizens for Sanctuary offered to train the group in new approaches to getting VCs to offer more places.

The training focused on roleplaying the meeting with the VC - all the roles were played by group members so that they got to experience how it felt to be the decision maker or a journalist covering the story - looking at the meeting from different perspectives. It also involved giving our young people the training and confidence to take charge of the meeting and not to be intimidated by those in authority. We made much more use of the personal stories of the young people affected.

Initially some of our team were sceptical of the new approach, which took us out of our comfort zone. But through preparation and support both meetings were incredibly successful – with one Vice Chancellor offering five places for our young people at university next year.

Citizens for Sanctuary are continuing to advise us on how to maximise our success and continue onto the next stages of negotiation."

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