Tell us about your organisation, how you started and what you do?
RMC started supporting the people of Wolverhampton in 1999; it was founded by two people who wanted to support newly arrived refugees and asylum seekers to understand what was happening with their immigration cases and to help with the other issues they were facing.
We quickly grew, becoming an official registered charity in 2003. Our ‘open door, drop in’ service was the key to our early success and still is today. All of our offices open their doors four mornings a week for people to come and access support and immigration advice for free.
Over the years we have extended our service to support people from all backgrounds including EU migrants to the city as well as refugees and asylum seekers. We have also extended our offer to include; health, housing, welfare / financial independence, ESOL and employment support.
Today we have 5 offices across Birmingham and the Black Country, employ 110 people and are supported by over 90 volunteers. In 2022/23 we helped 13,305 people across our centres who have come to the UK from 150 different countries and we are now the largest provider of free Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC) OISC in the UK.
What has been your greatest achievement?
Back in 2017, RMC started to see lots of people coming to us with issues around their status. Most of these people had been living in the UK since childhood, had attended school and university, had been in jobs, bought their own homes and were living happy and settled lives with their families and children who were born in the UK.
Suddenly they were being told that they didn’t have the right to be in the UK and that they may be returned to the country where they were born back in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
We now recognise these people as the ‘Windrush’ generation and it was RMC that was instrumental in raising the profile and the injustice of what was happening to these hard working and successful residents of Wolverhampton. Since that time, we have helped many more people to secure their status and British Nationality that they were entitled to.
What is your experience of support received from WVCA?
RMC has been working with WVCA for many years. Initially, we were supported in developing infrastructure and developing our presence in the city. The help and support provided in our early years, as well as linking us to people in the city, was invaluable.
In recent years we have been working together on delivering projects to support the residents of the city; projects such as Skills Connect and 50+ which helped us to reach out to the communities we help, to offer dedicated and tailored support, aiding people to claim benefits, learn new skills and gain employment.
We also regularly attend meetings and events arranged by WVCA. Feeding in to these means the voices and opinions of our clients are heard and understood. The value of attending these meetings cannot be understated as we also know that the leadership team at WVCA sit on many other boards and committees, not only in the city, but across the West Midlands.
Whoever you deal with at WVCA, you always get the impression that they listen to you and care about the people we support. Through this we are always left confident that the views and feedback we provide are then shared on our behalf to key decision makers in the city and beyond.
What is the most valuable lesson you have learnt about working with people in Wolverhampton?
The people of Wolverhampton are some of the hardest working and dedicated people you can find, be that the people who were born here, chose to move here, or found themselves here through resettlement programmes.
The community of Wolverhampton is welcoming and supportive of our clients and time and time again, residents in the city go out of their way to help the newly arrived communities to make them feel welcome and part of the city.
What are some of the challenges you face and how can WVCA help to support your organisation in the future?
Like lots of other charities in the city, the loss of European Social Funding is going to have an affect on the services we can offer but working with the team at WVCA, organisations and charities have come together as a sector to find new ways to bring funding to the city while sharing best practice and ideas amongst ourselves.
The city and its residents still face some huge challenges over the next few years. We have some of the worst unemployment in the UK, we have a cost of living crisis and there is a growing need to support people to develop digital skills so they can engage in statutory services, to name a few but as a sector in Wolverhampton, we are resolute in supporting the people of the city together and it’s WVCA that is there to lead and represent us in that challenge.
Where can we find out more?
Email: Steven@rmcentre.org.uk / email@example.com
Social Media: twitter.com/rmcentre
Address: Wolverhampton Office: First Floor, Roma Parva, 9 Waterloo Road, Wolverhampton, WV1 4NB
Tel: 01902311554 Fax: 01902311906