Everyone should feel empowered to make decisions for themselves, and to have control over their lives.
Empowerment means having the power to make changes in your life, claim your rights, and become stronger and more confident. There are many reasons why this might be challenging for someone to achieve. As a host family for Ukrainian guests, you might benefit from some structured support and guidance about how best to empower them.
This Empowerment hub is designed to give you a better understanding of what empowerment means, and how you can support your guests to be heard about what matters to them. Using these resources, you can help them gain the skills and confidence to take more control of their lives following the dangers they’ve faced at home.
Listening and empowering people
Watch this short video to understand more about empowerment.
Learn from others’ experience
We planned our support for a refugee family around enabling independence, but we found that not all our plans went smoothly once the family arrived.
Eveline, a Community Sponsor in Bristol, talks openly and honestly about how providing the support that’s needed can prove harder than it looks.
Read her story here: “You can't impose empowerment.”
Hear from a professional
Ultimately, empowerment is not about us. It’s about them.
Nick shares good practice for offering support, and what to avoid.
Quick read points from the video
Why is empowerment important?
It allows people to:
- Say what they want and what they need
- Have their rights protected
- Understand their available options so that they can make informed decisions
- Know that someone is on their side who will speak up for them if needed
What to avoid when you’re trying to help
- Judging the person or what they want – even if you disagree with what the person wants, you have to respect their choices
- Not listening to what the person wants
- Making decisions on the person’s behalf
- Imposing your own views or sharing anecdotes – avoid phrases such as ‘If I were you’, ‘You should…’, etc.
What are good ways to support someone to empower themselves?
- Actively listen (don’t just wait for your chance to speak)
- Understand the issues the person is facing
- Support the person to plan what to do next to resolve their issues
- Help the person know and understand their rights
Hear from a Ukrainian
We want to be winners, and not be like victims.
Tania shares her own experience, a guided mindfulness exercise, and her perspective as a mental health professional.
Key principles of empowerment
Professional advocates follow the Advocacy Charter. While you aren’t providing professional support, you might find these principles helpful to think about.
Who are we?
VoiceAbility is a rights and voice charity, and a leading provider of professional advocacy services across the country. We support people to speak up and be heard. This Empowerment hub draws on our experience in shaping and delivering professional advocacy, and we hope it’ll help you to empower others to find their voice.