Coffee and conversations

Discussion and support services for members of the Somali community

Discussing serious youth crime at a coffee morning drop in session
Credit: Yonis Jama

By Awale Elmi, Director, RISE Projects

RISE Project’s Coffee Morning and Drop-in Support sessions act as a safe space for women and mother in the Somali community to share information and build a network of support. The sessions serve to create better integration between service providers and service users, ensuring hard to reach Somali women get to find out about education and employment opportunities.  

The sessions, which are part of a two-year programme (funded by the Evening Standard’s Dispossessed Fund and London Community Foundation) provide a platform for attendees to become informed and have productive discussions.  

Each session is based on a particular theme, and we have covered topics that include, housing and digital resilience. We have worked with Citizens Advice Haringey, providing information on Universal Credit, and also with Haringey Metropolitan Police Service on understanding the drivers of knife crime and the impact of serious youth violence in the community.  

Attendees have also networked and supported one another with valuable community-based information. As a result, we have found that the women are also more confident about accessing services because they are better informed.  

One of the outcomes of the Coffee Morning and Drop-in Support Sessions has been the creation of a parents’ forum, which aims to empower the community, as well as working towards the increased representation of members of the Somali community in visible posts within Haringey.

These types of sessions are scarce. They provide a voice to parents who are dealing with a wide variety of social pressures and issues, and who would not have been heard elsewhere.  

We have seen first-hand how crucial the sessions are in bringing the community together with services providers, as we have successfully paired parents looking for work with employers, by simply providing information.

Attendee, Safia Mohamed said: “Before this, we were a bit out of the loop and voiceless but now we have a forum where we can talk about things that are important to us and our families.  

“The good thing is, others are able to relate to what’s being discussed and people from different organisations or even Haringey Council attend the coffee mornings and hear our voices directly – and it’s important that they do, or nothing will change otherwise.”

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