The project coordinator at a support service for new Londonderry residents from a black and minority ethnic background welcomed DUP Junior Minister Michelle McIlveen to its William Street premises recently and used the visit as an opportunity to highlight the challenges facing recently arrived migrants to the city.
Lilian Seenoi of the North West Migrants’ Forum 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.”
Ms McIlveen a Junior Minister at the Office of First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) visited the Forum on Monday.
“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,” said Ms Seenoi.
Ms McIlveen said: “It is a pleasure to be here today and see the work the North West Migrants’ 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 Migrants’ Forum.
“I congratulate you on your achievements to date and look forward to working with you in the future.”
Ms McIlveen also met with service users and heard how their experiences using the service had changed their lives.
One service user told the Executive Minister how they felt fully supported by the Forum and that staff at the organisation were like a family.
Sue Divin, Community Relations Officer from Derry City and Strabane District Council, said: “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.”
She said: “It is great that the Ministerial visit gave recognition to the importance of this work in the city and district.”