60 second interview with Dragica Felja
Dragica Felja is the Mentoring Project Worker at the Roma Support Group, a community organisation working with East European Roma refugees and migrants in London. Her role is to support and mentor Roma children and youth.
Do you do PLE?
Yes. Part of my work as a youth mentor at the Roma Support Group is to raise awareness about welfare, housing, health, education and employment issues. As most of my clients have literacy problems, one- to- one advice and community meetings are important and valuable ways of empowering my clients and making them more aware of their rights and entitlements.
What’s your favourite example of PLE?
In 2004, eight new countries (known as the A8) joined the EU. Many of our clients are from Poland, one of the countries that joined. This meant that their immigration status would change over night. We organised a community event for over one hundred clients. The event involved a welfare solicitor and a community interpreter, who delivered a presentation about the rights of A8 migrants in the UK. The presentation was followed by a one hour Q&A session. The clients who attended then went back to the community and told others about their new rights.
Another example, is a media project we ran for Roma children and young people from East London. A short documentary was produced that involved the children at all stages from planning, script writing, researching, acting, narrating, music production and film editing. The documentary looked at Roma heritage and Britain's attitude towards them. It empowered the young people to speak about their identity and their rights and to reach a wider audience.
The documentary was screened at a mainstream London cinema and followed by a panel discussion involving professionals, the public and film makers. A class discussion and activity pack reflecting UK Key Stage 3 National Curriculum components was also produced to be used in classrooms with the film.
Why do you think PLE works?
It works because it enables people from various backgrounds to learn about their rights and responsibilities.
What are the biggest challenges for your organisation doing PLE?
Language barriers, illiteracy amongst clients and limited resources.
What’s your top tip for doing good PLE work?
Community involvement, for example involving the community in public events by asking them to interpret.