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"When we focus on shared values, we find belonging"

Ola Sobieraj is Project Manager for the3million, leading on the Common Ground project. She shares her experience working with EU communities in the UK.

I am delighted to introduce myself as a new Project Manager at the3million, an organisation which I have followed and admired for its clear vision, resolve and results in campaigning for the rights of EU citizens in the UK post Brexit. I am very excited to be working on our new project Common Ground.

I am Polish, Poland is my home and I am attached to my Polish heritage. I also have a deep sense of European identity even though Poland only joined the EU in 2004 which was in my twenties, and in fact, after I had already come to the UK. I have lived in Northern Ireland ever since and it has become my home too because this is where my loved ones are. Until the Brexit vote.

The referendum and the toxic narrative around it undermined my sense of belonging in the UK and as a result I have become more determined to get involved in public life in an attempt to ensure that my own and the collective voice of EU citizens are properly heard, and our life and rights here are secure and our contributions valued.

This was reflected in my career journey as I moved from coordinating a network of migrant led organisations to managing a frontline service supporting people with EU Settlement Scheme applications.

During the last few years I have met and worked with many European, non-European, British, Irish and Northern Irish people from a whole spectrum of creeds and backgrounds and discovered that despite apparent differences, there were always some values and beliefs we shared. When we focused on those and looked forward, we were able to support each other and feel we all belong here.

The opportunity to join the3million came along at a time when I felt the need to move beyond providing immigration advice to working more strategically on a bigger arena towards effecting a systemic change.

Common Ground is just the ticket!

We have an ambitious goal to foster a positive relationship between the EU and the UK by means of celebrating our shared experiences and shared values and identifying opportunities for collaborations based on those values.

In practice, it means we would love to hear from any person or organisation interested in working across divides to empower EU citizens to thrive in the UK and join a network of like minded people sharing knowledge, good practice and identifying opportunities for collective actions.

the3million will facilitate this network and equip you with tools to engage in meaningful conversations, collaborate and campaign. We have an exciting and varied programme of activities including local engagement events, workshops, online working groups, UK and international conferences as well as arts, journalism and twinning campaigns.

If you’re interested in finding out more or getting involved, please contact us to let us know. We would love to hear from you if you are an EU community worker, leader, volunteer or if you have links with any informal EU citizens’ groupings.


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