International: workshop produces new communications plan

22 February 2012|Oliver White

Children playing at a JRS centre in Jordan, part of the organisation’s newest region, represent hope for the future. (Peter Balleis SJ/JRS)


Rome, 28 February 2012 – A JRS workshop last week produced a new two-year plan to promote attention on refugee issues.  The 2012-2014 communications plan is firmly rooted in the Strategic Framework, a document released in January outlining JRS values and strategies with a particular focus on the needs of refugees on the margins, quality education, interfaith dialogue and organisational unity.

Field staff began arriving in Rome on 16 February for a week of workshops and discussions on how to best inform, educate and motivate others to action on issues facing refugees and forcibly displaced persons. Participants included JRS communications and advocacy officers based in Bangkok, Nairobi, Bujumbura, Amman, Caracas, Brussels, Washington DC and Rome.

After a welcome speech from International Director Fr Peter Balleis SJ, staff attended presentations and participated in exercises led by their colleagues. Seminars throughout the week spanned a large range of activities including writing for the web, using tools like Facebook and Twitter, and fundraising.

During a joint session, the advocacy and communications officers sketched timelines and drew up goals to shed light on the plight of refugees living in city centres, make quality education available to refugee students and promote hospitality in host communities. The completed plan is expected to be ready for implementation within the next few months.

JRS field staff planned events designed to give refugees a platform to express themselves to the local community, using successes like the photo exhibit in Bangkok last month as a template. Those working in centres of power focused on ways to share research findings and testimonies from the field with policy makers and governments. United by the three broad campaign goals, staff had the opportunity to develop strategies focused on meeting the needs of the refugees and forcibly displaced persons in their specific region.

“As global media continues to evolve, communicating the needs of refugees and forcibly displaced persons requires an increasingly creative approach,” said JRS International Communications Director James Stapleton.

Both social networking and multimedia were presented as tools to promote the voices of refugees and forcibly displaced persons, share their stories and quickly inform the public in the event of a crisis or new positive development.

One important objective of the meeting was to work toward the creation of web pages for all regions. The websites are tools for sharing information and multimedia about JRS projects in the field, as well as spiritual reflections, news related to refugee issues and JRS work around the globe. By clicking on the following links, you can view the websites of JRS USAJRS Eastern AfricaJRS Latin America and JRS Asia Pacific.

The meeting was an important step towards a stronger, more united JRS outlined in the Strategic Framework, released at the end of January. Communications and advocacy officers return to the regions this week to share the ideas and plans with staff on the ground and incorporate new tools and strategies to accompany, serve and advocate for refugees and forcibly displaced persons.