Launching the Leadership Programme - an Introduction by Jonathan Ellis
Jonathan Ellis works independently to support people across the world to campaign for change. In addition to supporting Shpresa Programme, his recent portfolio includes work for the Refugee Council, UNHCR, Eurochild, and Concern. He is also project director of Detention Forum, a network of over 50 organisations challenging the use of immigration detention in the UK.
"The powerful combination between lived experience and learnt experience"
Back in the summer I was approached by Luli Nuzi, director of Shpresa programme, who gave me the exciting news that they had received funding to run a new leadership course for migrant community leaders.
I was really keen to meet up and discuss this exciting initiative, and when we did so I suggested that we might make a start by looking at existing good practice and build such a course on this. I was very politely challenged by Luli, who suggested that actually what we could do would be to build the course on the lived experience of Shpresa programme. I just loved this challenge, and I could immediately see that I was wrong and that there was such a value on Luli’s approach.
We then had a series of meetings over the course of the summer based loosely on some initial framing of the questions. At the end of these meetings, I was left with the most incredible collection of practical lived advice to aspiring leaders.
Over the course of my career, I’ve had the opportunity to engage with a lot of leadership training, but despite all of this, I was struck by the incredible originality and freshness of this material. And with all of the work that I’ve done in the past endeavouring to support refugee community organisations, I could see that this new material could be immensely helpful to leaders from such organisations because it is rooted in lived experience. And without wanting to give away too much about the excellent content in this course, we do cover some really useful information for emerging leaders. Having defined what we mean by leadership, we go on to discuss how you can get going, how to develop a mission, and how to be as a leader. We then focus on how to build partnerships, what to think about as you develop an organisation, some of the really useful things to know as a leader, and we finish with the tests for an effective leader.
I am clearly biased when it comes to this new course, but after all of my experience working in and around the refugee and migrant sector over the last 20 years, I think that this course will offer something fresh and incredibly needed that will help to stimulate the development of leaders in the sector with lived experience. We have needed such training for a long time, and I am so delighted that Shpresa Programme has stepped up to meet this challenge.