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protecting children and uniting families across borders

Spring 2009

ISS Volunteer Receives MBE Libyan colleague Muftah El Fagi honoured for services


e are overjoyed to learn that the long-standing efforts of our Libyan volunteer, Muftah Ibrahim El Fagi, have been acknowledged and rewarded in the Honorary Awards for 2009 with an MBE.

I am most grateful to Her Majesty and the British Embassy for honouring me in this way

“I am delighted that the important work I have been doing here in Libya with ISS UK has been recognised with this great award,” says Mr Muftah El Fagi. “I am most grateful to Her Majesty and the British Embassy for honouring me in this way.” Since 1999, Mr El Fagi has assisted with ISS UK’s Family Reunion Project in Libya. Working as a Libyan volunteer, he not only ensures that the group visits, which since 2002 have been an annual event, are successful, but also provides other assistance when necessary at the request of the British Embassy. Indeed, word about his efforts has spread to other

Muftah El Fagi (right) receiving his award. Photo by Marek Ganther

Embassies, and within Libyan Government circles also. The difficulties we faced when the Higher Committee for Children was disbanded in 2004 were overcome largely due to Mr El Fagi’s commitment to our project. The visits continued successfully on an annual basis and, in August 2006, we concluded and signed a cooperation agreement with leading Libyan charity Wa’atasimo. Mr El Fagi’s involvement is now on a regular basis throughout the year. In the last couple

ISS UK is an independent charity and part of an international network of social welfare agencies. Our mission is to promote and protect the rights and welfare of children, adults and families across international borders.

of years the group visits have grown. Last year there were four new families joining the trip to Libya. In the end 22 members representing 12 families travelled from four different countries—the UK, France, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria. The ongoing and growing success of the Family Reunion Project is a testimony to Mr El Fagi’s unstinting efforts over the years, and we all share in the pride he feels in receiving this award. Marek Ganther, ISS UK Senior Project Manager

Fabulous Dinner Defies Crunch


ur charity held the third annual International Child Protection Dinner at the French Ambassador’s Residence on 5th March 2009. This was our first major fundraising event since the ‘credit crunch’ spread gloom throughout the charity sector – so we were nervous! Unbelievably and marvellously we broke our record for income from such an occasion, raising over £140,000 for our charity. The stunning location and superb food made a major contribution to the success of the evening. The French Ambassador and our President Harvey McGrath were the perfect hosts – but the stars of the evening were our 100 wonderful guests who responded magnificently to our

various methods of prising open their hearts (and wallets!) to support our work with children and families in often desperate situations. We were fortunate to have wonderful live and silent auction prizes and special thanks go to the individuals and organisations who donated these items. We also had the support of our generous sponsor European Credit Management Limited, as well as wonderful wines donated by Ficofi. ISS UK is entirely dependent on our own fundraising efforts. The 2009 International Child Protection Dinner capped a brilliant event programme during which we have raised over £350,000 in the last 12 months.

In Focus: Transnational Families Dewi Darby explores this by-product of globalisation


he concept of ‘family’ is no longer restricted to the limited and traditional notion of a ‘nuclear family’; and now encompasses a whole range of family structures. One ever increasing, but by no means new, phenomenon, is that of the ‘transnational family’. With the constant presence of the internet, mobile phone networks and the diverse and cheaper options for travel in our daily lives, there is a constant reminder of the huge impact globalisation has had on increased access to communication and transport networks internationally. However, these are not the only infrastructures that have been affected: transnational families are an ever-


changing and growing by-product of globalisation. A transnational family is different from an ordinary migrant family. The general defining factor is not the act of cross-border movement, but the dispersion of the family, nuclear or extended, across international borders, where different family members spend time in one or the other country depending on various factors (Birdal, 2005).

The defining factor is the dispersion of the family across borders

ISS UK works extensively with children of global migration and their families who can be described as transnational. Transnational immigrants maintain family, social, economic, political, organisational and

religious affiliations which span national boundaries and may include close relatives and associates in several nation-states (Lovitt, 2001). Just as these families’ overall living arrangements extend beyond national boundaries, so does the work of ISS UK. Transnational families have to develop new strategies to cope with the dispersed family network and to interact within and beyond borders. ISS UK’s involvement and intervention is necessitated by the complex social and welfare needs of such children and their families. The Libya Family Reunion Project is one example of our work with transnational families, where we facilitate ongoing contact between mothers and their children who are separated by international borders.

Happy Homecoming in Trinidad Marek Ganther accompanies Mona to her hometown


ona was determined to become a nurse, so after leaving school she left her native Trindad and came to the UK in 1966 to realise her ambitions. After three years training she proceeded to work as a nurse in a variety of different hospitals. She married in 1980, but soon after she suffered a stroke. The effects of the stroke left her wheelchair-bound for many months, and this contributed to the break-up of her marriage. Due to the level of her disability, she hasn’t been able to work since.

Despite having friends in the UK, Mona was missing her family more and more

Unusually, Mona was the only one from her family that came to the UK, and, despite having friends, she was missing her family more and more. She contacted the High Commission of Trinidad to restore her Trinidadian nationality. Unlike some other countries, Trinidad does not allow dual nationality, so this was a necessary first step in the process. When Mona described her situation and circumstances to the High Commission, they recognised, hat she may qualify for the help available under the Travel Assistance Scheme administered by ISS UK. The Commission referred her to us in April 2008. Mona met all our basic criteria, and would require an escort. There was no great urgency as Mona did not want to go to Trinidad until Christmas, though this still depended on some procedural

Mona outside her new home in Trinidad. Photo by Marek Ganther

technicalities. The first of these was the restoration of her Trinidadian Citizenship. This can be a lengthy process but fortunately had already been started by the High Commission. Renunciation of her British Citizenship was also required, but this was not necessary until shortly before her departure. We heard in early December from the High Commission that Mona’s passport was ready. This meant that we could now start concluding the various arrangements. Flights were booked for mid-January. We helped arrange for the shipping of Mona’s household goods and personal effects in a 20 foot container to Port of Spain, and provided further assistance to get

her possessions through customs and back to her home, a three hour drive away. We assisted her with the arrangements needed for her pension payments to be made to her in Trinidad, and helped her close and transfer her bank and building society accounts. An early morning departure from Gatwick, and an empty flat following the shipping of her goods meant she had to stay overnight near the airport. After an 11 hour flight we arrived safely to be warmly greeted by her family, who had assembled in numbers at the airport, and took her home. I visited her a few days later, and, overjoyed to be home at last, she thanked me for all the assistance she had received.


Join Us To Celebrate Our 50th!


ome celebrate our annual World Market’s 50th anniversary! This spectacular event brings stalls from around the world right to your doorstep in a celebration of international culture and cuisine. With the support of London’s Diplomatic Missions, over 100 countries are represented, each selling an exciting array of national crafts and products, from jewellery, textiles and scarves, to designer handbags. This distinctive and historic event is sure to be the most unique shopping trip you have ever experienced. There will be opportunities to win some fantastic prizes as well as enjoying exotic food, drink and entertainment. The market raises funds for International Social Service (UK), to help us protect and promote the rights of children and vulnerable adults across international borders.

ISS UK’s World Market: 50th Anniversary Wednesday 13th May 2009, 11am to 6pm, Admission £5 Kensington Town Hall, Hornton St, London W8

Safeguarding is Global ISS UK Training Event in June


SS UK invites you to attend a full-day training event on 4th June 2009 in Limehouse, London. This event will bring together practitioners in the UK to examine cultural issues and perceptions that have an impact on protecting vulnerable children. The aim is to identify international barriers

Safeguarding is Global 4 June 2009, London

Full information about the event and the booking form can be found on our website: resources/training.php


when safeguarding children and to raise awareness of how cultural elements influence the protection of children at risk. The training will look specifically at cultural issues that require consideration, such as forced marriage and honour based violence. It will feature key legal aspects, offer some practical advice for intercountry cases and enable discussion and information exchange amongst practitioners. The keynote speech will be by Ferzanna Riley, author, broadcaster and Trustee of CCPAS. Ferzanna will speak about her first-hand experience of forced marriage and honour based violence. Other speakers will include a representative from the Forced Marriage Unit and Mr Alex Verdan QC, a specialist in family law.

In Loving Memory


e were sorry to hear of the sad death of Lady Coulson (1920-2009), mother of our annual world market. Lady Mavis Coulson was a longtime supporter of ISS UK, having been involved for over 50 years as well as founding our biggest charitable event. She will be sorely missed.

ISS UK (International Social Service UK)

1.11 Canterbury Court 1-3 Brixton Road London SW9 6DE 0207 735 8941

Spring Newsletter 2009  
Spring Newsletter 2009  

Libyan colleague Muftah El Fagi honoured for services ISS UK is an independent charity and part of an international network...