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Written by Aminata Kalakoh, Member Development Coordinator

This blog takes you on a journey through my first year as the Member Development Coordinator at AVID, highlighting the organisation's evolution, the power of community, and the challenges that lie ahead.

A year ago, I started working for this great organisation with so much to offer to humanity.

Like with any new job role, the transition from one job to the other is always a daunting experience, not to say the least, coming from a career break even scarier. I had moved from a business environment, where our everyday approach was number crunching and profit maximisation of the business entity, to an environment where number crunching becomes a sad reality of how people’s lives have been put on hold However, it is also rightly said that it doesn’t matter where you go in life, but what matters the most is whom you have beside you all the way. My colleagues at AVID and those within the wider network had made my first year go by so quickly without me noticing.

My Journey at AVID

Within this year, I have witnessed AVID undergo significant changes in its strategy, Theory of change and organisational structure. I am lucky to be part of an organisation that, for the last 29 years, has worked against all odds to make what is seemingly impossible possible. The journey has been nothing short of inspiring.

Too often, we see human capital unrealised because of the instabilities and difficulties created by the UK’s Immigration system. However, at AVID, we assume that power and the efforts to change the status quo should come from those with lived experience. This belief is the cornerstone of our work, evident in our network of groups and our approach to advocacy.

AVID has given me a broader voice to speak from and a platform to engage more broadly in conversations for learning and possibilities and ways to problem-solving. Therefore, I would like to thank my colleagues for believing in and supporting me in my everyday work and my manager for distinguishing my talents and development needs and making sure that they are fully harnessed.

The Power of Community

At its core, AVID is about community and empowerment. It's about standing together to amplify voices, effect change, and navigate the challenges of an ever-evolving landscape. In the face of unpredictability and a heated discourse on migration, our commitment remains unwavering.

One highlight of my year has been witnessing the remarkable growth of the Durham Visitors Groups, which are part of the broader AVID network. These are a group of women with a wealth of life experience, whom I very much look forward to having regular meetings with. I enjoy the banter amongst them and the sharp tongue when they are upset about something, but in reality, I very much see them as my grandparents and the younger members I see as my colleagues.

This group is composed of dedicated individuals who visit and support women in an immigration detention centre near Durham. Through their unwavering commitment, they have been able to provide a lifeline to women in detention, offering companionship and support during incredibly challenging times.

Looking Ahead

The road ahead may be challenging as unpredictability continues to shape the immigration landscape. Migration has become a contentious topic, highlighting governance failures. However, I urge everyone in this sector to motivate ourselves, strengthen our capabilities, and deepen our understanding as we strive for a better future.

As I reflect on this remarkable year, I am reminded that the power for change lies within our community, and together, we can continue to make the impossible possible.

In closing, I invite you to share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.

  • Have you ever faced a daunting career transition or navigated significant life changes while pursuing your passion?
  • How did you overcome them?
  • Let's continue the conversation and empower one another on this journey.

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