6) How our co-op is supporting the Kurdish communities in Birmingham

Our workers co-op is a bicycle workshop in Stirchley, Birmingham. When Kobanê was under seige in Autumn 2014 we showed a documentary in our co-op’s meeting and training room on the democratic experiment in Rojava (the predominately Kurdish region of Northern Syria, or Western Kurdistan). The small room was packed out because many Kurds from Syria who we had reached out to came to the event. One individual had come from Kobani canton that month where he had been fighting ISIS in the villages.
From the relationships that we established with Kurdish people who attended we have been able to offer support to Kurdish migrants based on their needs. We were told that many people who were new to the UK from Syria were struggling to acquire English quickly enough to be able to engage in daily life easily. On top of that we were told about workers’ ignorance of their rights and lack of English being exploited by some bosses and temp agencies. A group of us designed a six week syllabus of language lessons based on participants’ needs, we are also helping out with childcare for the participants so that people aren’t left out of the learning process because of caring requirements. We have begun giving these classes in Birmingham Bike Foundry’s meeting room on Sundays. The fact that we have access to the co-ops resources means that we can run the course without charging, or seeking money from elsewhere. We are using the co-operative commonwealth to support international, revolutionary, democratising movements and in this sense we are co-operative traditionalists. Chris member of Birmingham Bike Foundry a Radical Routes co-operative.

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