“I know my community. They want to thrive, go to universities, be professionals and succeed in their career. So, it’s crucial for us now, more than ever, to come together peacefully and show others who we really are.” – Lediana Pajaj
Luljeta Nuzi, Lediana Pajaj and Flutra Shega are community leaders for Shpresa Programme, a charity and core member of Citizens UK’s founding Chapter, East London Citizens. Together, they support Albanian-speaking refugees and migrants in the UK to build community and campaign for change.
We sat down to speak with them ahead of this year’s Albanian Independence Day – a moment they are marking through both celebration and action.
Today they take action against hate as we come together to build a more welcoming society.
— Citizens UK (@CitizensUK) November 26, 2022
Over two decades, Shpresa have developed thousands of leaders who have at times felt excluded from British society but now call the UK home. Shpresa has been there throughout many of Citizens UK’s long-standing campaigns. From championing the Living Wage and ensuring a People’s Olympic Legacy, to campaigning for affordable housing and Settled Status for undocumented people who have put down roots. Their tireless organising has been at the heart of seismic wins – from ending child detention laws to enabling the opening of bank accounts by asylum seekers, and removing financial barriers for families to apply for their children’s British Citizenship, and much more.
Today, Shpresa’s leaders continue campaigning on issues including mental health, supporting vulnerable young people and introducing an Albanian language GCSE qualification. Their achievements cannot be overstated and should inspire us all.
“Just showing how much we care and by trying to do our very best, by working with our neighbours and other organisations…hopefully the message will come clear, that this is our home too.” – Flutra Shega
Taking a stand
Even when issues weren’t the top priority for Shpresa’s communities, they organised to build a more just society for all. This is just one reason why increasingly dehumanising language in the media and by politicians in recent weeks has felt especially painful for Albanian people, with the already hostile and racist UK debate on migration needlessly turning on yet another community.
This Albanian Independence Day, Shpresa and other Citizens UK member institutions are taking action to make a stand against this hateful rhetoric. Hear from leaders in their own words on why solidarity with our Albanian neighbours matters now more than ever.
“Now is the time where you can help Shpresa. Just by sharing your positive experiences with the Albanian community, that could be the biggest support. When we have social media campaigns, please share your story, share your journey and be with us in spirit.” – Luljeta Nuzi
3X Links to blog pages:
- LULJETA NUZI REFLECTS ON TAKING A STAND THIS ALBANIAN INDEPENDENCE DAY
- LEDIANA PAJAJ REFLECTS ON HOW ALBANIAN LEADERS ARE MAKING BRITAIN HOME
- FLUTRA SHEGA REFLECTS ON TWO DECADES OF ALBANIAN LEADERS ORGANISING WITH CITIZENS UK
Get involved with Shpresa Programme -> Learn more here: Shpresa Programme – Inspiring Hope & Change
Support Shpresa -> #WalkWithLuli is a fundraising campaign set up to support Shpresa following the devastating news of Luljeta’s terminal illness. Money raised will build on her incredible legacy by securing the dream of a home for the Albanian community. -> Please donate here: Walk with Luli – JustGiving
Share your support online -> If you and your institution stand with our Albanian neighbours, be a part of fighting back against harmful rhetoric by posting on social media in solidarity.
“We stand with our Albanian neighbours.” (English)
“Ne mbështesim fqinjët tanë shqiptar.” (Albanian)