We established MRU Social and Economic Community (MRU Community) as a support structure and our approach to enabling the communities we support to be economically and socially active, inclusive, and prosperous. Initially, the definition of this community reflected the free trade arrangement between Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea, and Ivory Coast called the "Manor River Union (MRU)."
However, due to the similarities and experiences found in other migrant communities from the West African region, the definition of the MRU Community was expanded to also include communities from Guinea-Bissau, Gambia, Mali, Mauritania, Senegal, and some communities from North Africa and Latin America that we have also been working very closely with.
As a migrant community and people with lived experience-led organisation, we experienced multiple disadvantages and challenges while trying to settle and integrate in the UK. We draw our inspiration and passion to help others from the resilience we built as we overcome the barriers and challenges we faced.
We've seen and experienced our children being excluded from schools and/or removed from the care of their parents by social services. Most of the time the parents who find themselves in these situations do not know where to begin, whether they should or can challenge these decisions, and are usually ashamed to talk about it or seek assistance.
We've also seen and experienced people on five or ten years route to settlement lose their immigration status and then lose their jobs and homes. In most cases, these people also do not know where to start as, if they are unemployed, it means they cannot afford the application fees and if they do not have immigration status they are not allowed to work and if they are not working they can't afford to pay for their accommodation.
Although free legal services are widely available across the UK but in most cases, the communities we support are afraid or unwilling to access them due to fears they have about people in authority based on their past experiences, religious, cultural, and other reasons.
We discovered through our work that these communities are more likely to seek help from an organisation and people that they can relate with, who understand their experiences and are sensitive to their religious and cultural concerns.
Our Mission therefore is to provide suitable, appropriate, timely, tailored, and personalised support services to individuals, families, and the communities we serve.
We work with the communities we support to find the solutions appropriate to them and continue building and strengthen our relationship with them. We also encourage them to set up community groups, voluntary organisations, and businesses and establish partnerships with others outside their communities.
As the years we've spent working with these communities passes, we see the positive and transformative impact that our work is having on them. We aim to continue building on our success as we grow and scale across the UK.