Community Advocates

Community advocates, like community legal advisers (CLAs), should be recruited from the refugee or host community according to the same criteria set out on the previous page. Their role however is not necessarily to advise refugees on their rights.

The focus of community advocates’ work is highly diverse: all non-legal work that you are pursuing in a community setting can be supported by community advocates.

Community advocates’ role

This is for you to decide with your organization and the refugee community. Examples include:

  • Promoting and fostering popular education on human rights and refugee rights, anti-discrimination, tolerance, etc.
  • Promoting capacity building and multiplying empowerment among refugee and host communities.
  • Supporting and nurturing community leaders of all ages, genders and backgrounds in their own leadership styles.
  • Strengthen community processes of political participation, advocacy and rights initiatives.
  • Act as focal point for alert networks e.g. SGBV, new arrivals, protection or rights issues.
  • Support elaboration and achievement of community action plans.
  • Help visibilize refugee and host community issues before authorities and public institutions.
  • Support your organization’s advocacy campaigns e.g. running focus groups or interviews to collect material or evidence to inform campaigns.
  • Monitor and communicate community problems e.g. integration difficulties, racism, rights abuses, access to land, to your organization.
  • Share information about new services or processes relevant to refugees.

Community advocate training

  •  Whilst Community Advocates will not be expected to give detailed legal advice, like all members of your organization – staff or volunteers – they should be able to identify refugees, explain the main issues regarding refugee rights to both authorities and community members (in understandable language) and direct refugees to the appropriate channels when seeking redress for rights violations.
  • Active listening and inter-personal relationship-building based on equality.
  • Facilitation techniques:
    • Learn to recognize others’ skills; maintain group cohesion; promote active participation; conflict resolution.
    • Beyond workshop dynamics, this should focus on techniques to facilitate community processes (similar to project management techniques, but from a participatory, rights-based perspective) e.g. promoting the achievement of community aims, prioritizing tasks, following up actions, giving feedback.
  • Communications skills.
  • Democratic leadership skills.
  • Community organizing and motivation techniques e.g. how to generate safe spaces that facilitate participation.
  • Non-discrimination principles.