Building on UK Diaspora International Partnerships

This programme funded by the John Paul Getty Trust is designed to encourage diaspora groups in UK with strong established relationships to their home communities to use those relationships to engage with the wider UK community here to form partnerships with counterparts from the communities in which they originate.

The (BUKDIP) project will bring together Ethnic Minority Organisations in UK and provide them with opportunities through collaboration with others to introduce their home communities in the South to the wider community in the UK through the development of partnership links.

BUILD will explore with a wide range of diaspora groups how the opportunities for global partnerships might be exploited for the benefit of all involved. The purpose of the project will be to encourage peace, prosperity and justice by:

  • bringing the global dimension into the lives of citizens in the UK, through the development of global partnerships thus giving them an understanding of the complex world in which we live
  • developing greater social cohesion within communities in UK
  • addressing issues of exclusion and lack of identity amongst minority ethnic groups in UK
  • building on the self-confidence and personal and professional development of those involved
  • providing opportunities for refugees and asylum seekers to "tell their stories" thereby bringing greater tolerance and understanding within British Society
  • building support for development as part of the UK Government's International Development agenda.

We have held the first of the 7 Regional Meetings in Sheffield which was attended by representatives from 15 different diaspora organisations. A small steering committee has now been set up in Sheffield and will be holding its first meeting this year to strategically at how to take this project forward in and around Sheffield.

Work with the Diaspora

We have produced the report Voices of the Diaspora – A New Vision, following three years of work with diaspora organisations around the UK exploring how we might build on the natural links that the diaspora from Africa, Caribbean and Asia have with their communities of heritage.

The key messages that arise from the report are:-

  1. There is a lack of recognition of the contribution that diaspora communities make to British Society
  2. Negative perceptions of immigrants and diaspora communities are increasing
  3. There is a need for greater collaboration across the diaspora
  4. The diaspora feel remote from policy makers and the international development community whether INGOs or the Department for International Development.

This report has been shared with senior politicians including the Prime Minster, Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition, Justine Greening, the Secretary of State for International Development and Jim Murphy, the Shadow Spokesperson. A copy sent to the Kamalesh Sharma, the Commonwealth Secretary General provoked a very positive response expressing the need for the Commonwealth Secretariat to engage more with this community.

We are now engaged in discussions with key individuals and organisations to discuss how we can take these findings forward and address the problems facing the diaspora in the UK.

One particular area in which we shall be engaged is connecting the diaspora from particular countries to the All Party Parliamentary Group for that country. Already we have worked with the Kenyan diaspora and held meetings with the APPG for Kenya, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and the Commonwealth Local Government Forum. We are also currently working with the Somaliland community in the UK to support their work in gaining international recognition for Somaliland and are making arrangements for a meeting between the visiting Foreign Minister for Somaliland with the APPG for Somalia and Somaliland.

As the convenors of the APPG Connecting Communities we have been asked to produce the next edition of a publication “Parliamentarians Ending Poverty” which lists all the relevant APPGs. We see this as a potential opportunity to promote community based partnerships in relation to international development.