In this episode we reflect on our role in this interconnected world. How can each of us contribute to building a more inclusive society? What does it mean to be a global citizen in an age where technology has made distances shorter, but sometimes, paradoxically, the gaps in understanding wider?
Our guest is the mastermind behind Conversation Over Borders, an initiative bridging the chasm between displaced individuals and the community.
Conversation Over Borders has grown from a response to a pressing need during the pandemic to a thriving community interest company. It’s a story of organic growth, driven by the real-time needs of those it serves. This journey illustrates the power of grassroots movements in creating tangible social change, demonstrating the profound impact of empathy, innovation, and relentless dedication.
This is The Possibility Club, where conversations are more than just words; they’re bridges to a better world of practical bravery. And we would like you to meet Colette Batten-Turner.

Key quotes:

“Really, to start with, it was just me connecting people that I knew, on both sides. People who I’d worked with closely with this mental health group for about three years, and other people, who I knew through school, or uni, or whatever, who were teachers.”

“I put out a call for volunteers on Facebook and had about fifty people phone up overnight. That was a sign that there was a real demand for connection, and learning English as well, but there was also a real yearning to volunteer and for people to support people at that time. All of us were isolated in one way or another.”

“The way that we have developed has remained very rooted in the community.”

“People, generally, want to support other people. If you see someone fall down in the street, most people stop and see if they’re alright, or like help them up. But the difficulty is when people feel so divorced from “an issue”, or an injustice for example, that they just don’t see it as their thing — and they’re focused very much on their lives and their day-to-day problems. But when people feel part of a wider community, quite often there is more of a community spirit around supporting other people as well.”

“There is a massive divide between what our Home Office is doing and what people actually want, or feel is there for others.“

“Part of the ‘hostile environment’ policy is people who’ve been displaced are regularly moved around the country — is it exactly for this reason: so that they can’t get embedded into a community that will then look out for them, or defend them. Not my neighbours — you’re not taking them away.“

“Quite often we feel disempowered by what we see happening in the House of Commons, the House of Lords, whereas actually we can reclaim some of that power by saying okay, I don’t agree with that, that doesn’t represent me, and I obviously will continue engaging with politics but in the mean time I can live the way that represents what I believe and I can take action to support the people I know.” 

“Whenever there’s a political crisis in a country, or a recession, someone gets othered, someone gets blamed for it. Whenever there’s political failings, generally a group that’s not given the space to amplify their voices gets blamed or scapegoated for what’s going on.”

This episode was recorded in June 2023

Interviewer: Richard Freeman for always possible

Editor: CJ Thorpe-Tracey for Lo Fi Arts


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