On Monday the 6th of July 2015, the North West Migrants Forum received a welcome visit from Junior Minister to the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) Ms Michelle Mcllveen at their offices at William Street.
The minister was received by the North West Migrants Forum project coordinator Lilian Seenoi, and the community relations officer of Derry and Strabane district council, Sue Divin. The minister took her time to talk to staff of North West Migrants Forum about the services they offer and how they thought community relations could be improved in the North West. She also met with service users and heard how their experiences using the service has changed their lives. One service user said that they felt fully supported and that staff at the organisation were like a family. Sue Divin, Community Relations Officer from Derry City and Strabane District Council welcomed the visit stating “I’m delighted that Minister McIlveen came up to Derry~Londonderry to see the excellent work that is being delivered by the North West Migrants Forum. Our Black and Minority Ethnic Communities work very hard to promote equality and diversity locally – and many of the groups are run entirely by volunteers. It is great that the Ministerial visit gave recognition to the importance of this work in the city and district.”
The project coordinator and members of the BME community had a great opportunity to discuss a number of important issues faced by the BME community living in the North West area of Northern Ireland. Lilian Seenoi said “We are delighted that the Junior Minister responsible for community relations and equality has visited our office today, she has shown a keen interest in our work and commitment in promoting equality and diversity in Northern Ireland. The minister was particularly interested in building relationships and there is a great opportunity for us to engage and work with the department to promote equality and diversity in the North West. We welcome the recognition of our work by the minister and continuous support we are receiving from her department and from Derry city and Strabane district council community relations officers. This was a great chance to not only highlight the challenges faced by the BME community here but equally to share the success of the organisation and objectives moving forward.
During her visit, the minister said “It is a pleasure to be here today and see the work the North West migrant’s forum first-hand. It is great to meet people working together with a determination and commitment to improve community relations and equality; your work has made a real difference for the better. OFMDFM have made a lot of progress towards building harmonious communities throughout Northern Ireland. This would not have been possible without the help of organisations from the voluntary and community sector such as the North West migrant’s forum. I congratulate you on your achievements to date and look forward to working with you in the future.”