As we mark the one-year anniversary of the start of COVID-19 lockdown in the UK, ATM would like to reflect on the work that we have carried out during these unprecedented and challenging times. At the outset, we would like to offer our condolences to the families that have lost their loved ones to COVID-19.
The Anti-Tribalism Movement has made considerable efforts to contribute to our community and other grassroots organisations. We launched an urgent briefing for policymakers in the UK ‘COVID-19 in the Somali Community’ which was endorsed by twenty-seven charities across the UK in response to the alarming death rates within the British-Somali community. The outcomes of this research resulted in a partnership with Comic Relief and National Emergencies Trust to launch ATM Resilience Grants. The purpose of this grant was to aid the BAME voluntary sector to maintain their service provision and survival during COVID-19 and as a result of these combined efforts, we were able to disperse £432,000 COVID funds to 34 organisations.
We recognised the importance of producing meaningful reports as they have resulted in positive outcomes for our community and beyond. This further prompted us to undertake a broad array of research, which has enabled us to publish policy briefings. The research that we have published ranges from ‘COVID-19: Impact on Remittances from the UK to Somalia’, ‘COVID-19 and Women: The UK’s Horn of Africa Communities’, ‘Improving Mental Health Support for the UK Somali Community’, to ‘Buraanbur: Cultural Beauty, Peace Promotion and Tribal Prejudice’. We have continued with our planned events and hosted our first virtual International Women’s Day 2021 as well as a number of successful open dialogues to share our finhttp://www.youtube.com/dings from our policy briefings.
During the second lockdown, we were well-positioned to prepare the community by sharing accurate information and reliable resources in both Somali and English, which reached Somalis globally. As local government offices have been shut due to the lockdowns, we have also been inundated with service users who struggled to access essential services via online or telephone services. As a result, we have taken the initiative to partially open our services to make sure vulnerable service users received welfare and housing advice/support while at the same signposting them essential health services. ATM then took a lead role to encourage British-Somali businesses to both access and utilise local business rates support available within our Local Authorities across the UK. A number of essential businesses and services to the community have benefited from the support mechanisms to help sustain and cushion them from the impact of COVID19 on their core services and businesses.
Our programmes transformed digitally – our youth continued their influential social action projects by creating long-lasting awareness such as a video on promoting conversations about mental health at home, and also challenging their education system with the informational leaflet ‘Great Black Briton’. Remote activities were key during the pandemic and we acknowledged the impact that digital learning has on education outcomes for youth. Young people were heavily affected by remote learning and contributed to poor mental health outcomes therefore, we worked with a bank of therapists to provide free therapy sessions for our young service users.
As COVID-19 moved all of our services online, the annual International Somali Awards 2020 was postponed. However, we continued our efforts by organising and announcing our winners via social media. Social media has been able to aid us significantly in both promoting our vision and engaging with Somalis globally. We would like to thank our supporters and funders who have made our work possible and have helped us prevail during this unparalleled period.
We hope to see you at our new building Culture House which is also available to community members to rent and utilise as office space (please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information relating to this). We hope that we are able to celebrate the International Somali Awards this year in person.
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We wish you all the best in the blessed month of Ramadan.