September’s Spotlight – East African Diaspora Community Network (EDCN)
Who: East African Community – mainly Eritrean, Ethiopian and Somalian
What: Supporting East Africans with English Language skills, integration and information and advice
Where: Royal Borough of Greenwich and London Borough of Brent
Q. Tell us a bit about your organisation
EDCN supports East Africans across three main areas:
1. We run classes in improving spoken English
2. We work on integration, running groups that support our members to improve their understanding of both British culture and also, of each others cultures
3. We run a drop-in service, offering general information and advice to East Africans.
Q. How did you start?
We started back in 2006, working only in Greenwich. However, when two of our Management Committee moved to Brent, they discovered there was a large East African community there struggling to access essential services, so we expanded to cover that borough too. We began quite informally but became a constituted group in 2010.
Q. Biggest Highlight?
For me, the biggest highlight in what we do is when somebody we have supported goes on to begin accessing sevices independently. The aim of what we do is to encourage people to do things by themselves so it is a huge achievement when they do.
Q. Biggest Challenge?
On the flipside, the most difficult thing is when people we work with struggle to cope or are prevented from making progress by issues such as Home Office papers or family problems. However, on the positive, we are seeing more and more people beginning to do things independently.
Q. Plans for the future?
We would like to work with other groups who have a similar client base, with the aim of identifying common barriers to wellbeing that our members face and then work out ways of supporting them to overcome these.