Who are the ICOS?
Written by Ryan O'Hara on 9th May 2023
The International Community Organisation of Sunderland is one of the largest charities in the North East that strives to better the lives of Black and Minority Ethnic individuals.
The charity’s Back in Control project (BIC) targets to eliminate modern-day slavery and workplace exploitation during phase one. Julia Wysocka, the Community Development Officer, said: “We also currently are delivering a Back in Control project which focuses on providing one-to-one needs tailored support to victims of modern day slavery and in work exploitation or discrimination.”
This saw monumental improvements with those that got involved in the program. 68% of participants saw their financial situation improve while 56% saw their control of life improve.
BIC has now moved into phase two where they concentrate on improving the wellbeing of those individuals still a part of the program.
Ms. Wysocka, founded and leads the Eastern European Women’s group. She mentions how the goal of this group is to help women who have moved to the UK feel welcomed and included in the community.
She said: “It focuses on improving women’s skills, confidence and wellbeing but also creates a safe and inclusive environment for women to meet, we deliver activities every 2 weeks for example, arts and crafts, sports such as Zuma or mum’s and children’s activities.”
ICOS plans successful missions and projects, an example being the Wise Steps project. This project has helped those that struggle with job employment, offering services such as job searching, applying for jobs and interviews. Ms. Wysocka commented: “ICOS has supported a total of 70 clients of which 51 were unemployed and 18 economically inactive participants.”
The next project the ICOS is taking part of, that you can get involved in, is called “Know Your Neighbourhood”. This event will take place in June at Backhouse Park and will celebrate refugee week with a combination of workshops, activities and events. This will include the continuation of the East Rangers project which organises environmental workshops and weekly community cleanups.
Many people get involved with ICOS because they feel passionate for their community and want to give back, with some volunteers returning after being a client.
Ms. Wysocka said: “We have volunteers who started off as our clients but for years took part in our activities, focused on improving their skills, for example English language skills and they started volunteering, showed great leadership skills and started delivering their own small scale projects.”
It is very easy to get involved with the ICOS, they advertise many projects on their website or you can reach out to Ms. Wysocka herself (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Don’t be hesitant to reach out to ICOS directly to learn more about what they do and how to get invovled