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Refugee Rights Europe case study
Area of training
Writing clear and effective emails and reports, and writing to persuade and influence
Training day in the virtual classroom plus access to e-learning
Raising awareness and prompting action on key human rights issues hinges on effective communications that grab decision-makers' attention and clearly express their ask.
Refugee Rights Europe started in 2015 as a response to the crisis situation in Calais and the lack of information about displaced people.
The charity collaborates with grassroots organisations and bridges the gap between the people on the ground and external stakeholders including large NGOs, MPs and members of the European Parliament.
It was a challenge for their staff to understand how to switch confidently between this range of audiences in order to communicate effectively with each. They were also keen to ensure their advocacy messages were always clear, concise and powerful – and led to readers taking action.
‘Lots of our advocacy targets are very busy and might not take more than a couple of seconds to decide whether to pay attention to an email,’ says Operations Manager Fae Mira Gerlach.
They wanted to learn how to structure emails, write persuasively and feel confident dealing with bigger organisations and partners.
They also recognised the need to be able to channel their knowledge and passion around issues in the best way, so that they could communicate effectively with decision-makers. ‘People can be really passionate and the subjects are complex, so it helps to send a really clear, concise email with the information you need,’ says Fae.
A previous experience with Emphasis led Refugee Rights Europe to consider commissioning some writing training. Executive Director Marta Welander had taken the course at a previous company and remembered how powerful it had been. She thought the whole team could benefit from the skills she had honed.
‘Marta had a really good experience and felt the tools were really concrete,’ explains Fae. ‘We wanted to build the capacity of our team to ensure a high quality of written work.’
Emphasis delivered a bespoke version of their High-impact writing course, covering impactful reader-focused writing, writing to influence and effective ways to structure emails and documents. The materials were tailored to incorporate the team’s own documents and style guide, so they could readily see how to apply the techniques to their own work.
After attending the course, the team saw an improvement in their written communication – both internal and external. As well as noticing that people were writing in a more structured and concise way, they also saw the improvements extend to their oral communication and presentations too – being clear, prepared and knowing what they wanted to achieve.
Importantly, improving their communication skills has also helped them firmly establish their place in international advocacy and position themselves as a trusted source of information.
‘Clear writing has helped lift our credibility,’ says Fae. ‘It’s important to appear sober, clear and precise and know how to channel passion and messages for the right audience. It feeds into us being very effective in our advocacy.’
So much so, they are regarded as a key influencer despite still being a very small organisation. ‘We are perceived along the lines of older, more established human rights organisations,’ says Fae. ‘We are mentioned alongside people like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.’
And by making sure the whole team have these core skills, they are able to have a greater impact and reach more people.
Fae also recognises that the value gained from taking a fresh look at their communications is twofold. ‘We would definitely recommend the writing training,’ says Fae. ‘It does two things – it gives you these practical tools you can use straight away, but it also helps you reflect on what you really want and how to be strategic and precise about it.’
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'Clear writing has helped lift our credibility. It's important to know how to channel passion for the right audience. It feeds into us being very effective in our advocacy.'
Fae Mira Gerlach, Operations Manager, Refugee Rights Europe
Think tanks and policy research / Healthcare
Think tanks and policy research / Charity