One of the key findings from the YUMI Consultation 2014 is the isolation and loneliness being experienced by many people from BME backgrounds living in York and how this is a barrier to their personal and professional development and sense of belonging. This finding provides reaffirmation of YUMI’s aims, but it also identified how much more we could do to strengthen the support mechanisms we provide to address this.
The Communications and Engagement Project, which was delivered over 5 months, was designed to use information and ideas gathered through our community consultation to:
- Meet the expressed needs of BME volunteers through our activities, programme of training and support, and website development
- Reduce isolation by training and supporting BME people to connect to each other, and to lead activities in the local community
- Improve the quality of life of BME volunteers by developing their confidence and skills through our training and support programme
- Ensure that information about getting involved with YUMI is easily accessible to all (ie through our website, events calendar and city-wide publicity of our activities)
- Ensure BME people can access information from key service providers across the city via our web
- Combat negative stereotypes by providing positive role models at our events
A key component of the project was the support we gave to BME participants to develop skills in engaging communities with the aim of building inclusivity. This included: training in web content management on our new website, event coordination and delivery and the development of new social/recreational activities.
Through their commitment and endeavour, our participants excelled in organising some tremendously successful events, and in leaving a legacy of improved and enhanced virtual communication and new interest groups.
The Golden Ball Community Pub was bursting at the seams in January 2015, when our Winter Celebration attracted nearly 80 people – many of whom were new to YUMI. The response was overwhelmingly positive and enthusiastic:
“To see so many different people from different countries and taste different food in a pub on a wet, winter, Saturday afternoon is so great. I didn’t really know what to expect, but this is so much fun and I feel so welcome.”
“I’m blown away by the mix of people here. People of all ages and everyone is smiling. There’s such a buzz about the place!”
Our International Filmshow and Storyshare event, held in February, proved to be an inspirational way of connecting people through their response to films about immigration and the experience of transitioning between cultures. We were joined by YUMI friend and professional storytelling artist, Mary Passeri, who worked her invisible magic, dawing out a myriad of stories and memories from members of the audience.
Through the new interactive ‘Online Social’ space on our redesigned website, people have a welcoming place to connect and make friends. As well as being part of a city-wide, cohesive information and support system, the site as a whole is built to encourage feedback, ideas and opinions to help ensure YUMI’s focus remains current and well-informed.
From its beginnings through the aegis of the project, the YUMI International Craft Group continues to grow. Due to the indomitable energy and drive of the participants who initiated it, this peer led group maintains its own Facebook page, meets regularly and continues to build engagement both with the arts and crafts community in York by inviting experts to deliver workshops, arranging outings to crafts events and visiting other BME support organisations. Not only are the craft sessions a lovely way to meet and socialise, but they provide a relaxed, creative space and huge confidence building opportunities.