National charity appointed to support resettlement of Syrian refugees in Shropshire

Refugee Action has been appointed to support the resettlement of Syrian refugees into Shropshire. The national charity was chosen following a competitive procurement selection process to oversee the resettlement of Syrian refugees into the county. With over 30 years’ experience, Refugee Action is the leading charity supporting the resettlement of refugees in the UK, enabling some of the world’s most vulnerable people to rebuild their lives in dignity and integrate within local communities. The charity will be working closely with Shropshire’s Syrian Refugee Cross-Party Working Group to resettle up to 10 families in the county.  A team of dedicated staff and volunteers will be on hand to help the new arrivals settle into their new homes, access local services, and identify ways to help them integrate with local communities.

Mal Price, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for planning, housing, regulatory services and environment, and Chair of Shropshire’s Syrian Refugee Cross-Party Working Group, said: “I am delighted that Refugee Action have been appointed and look forward to working with them. Refugee Action was appointed because of their expertise in working with refugees and of this particular resettlement programme, and because of their willingness and enthusiasm for working with the local communities in Shropshire to harness all the support and goodwill on offer.”

Julie Kashirahamwe, Refugee Action’s National Resettlement Manager, said:  ”Refugee Action is delighted to be working in partnership with Shropshire Council to welcome Syrian refugees across the county over the coming year. Building on over 30 years’ experience of resettlement, our dedicated staff and volunteers look forward to working closely with the council to ensure these individuals and families, who have faced unimaginable horrors, are empowered to rebuild their lives in dignity.”

For more information about the Shropshire’s resettlement programme, or if you want to register your support, please email refugeesshropshire@shropshire.gov.uk.

We will be contacting all residents and groups who have kindly offered support as our plans progress.

You can also visit http://shropshire.gov.uk/syrian-refugee-support/. Here you’ll find FAQs to address any questions members of the public may want to ask, and myth busters around both refugees and asylum seekers.

Today (Wednesday 16 March 2016) Shropshire Council’s Cabinet agreed to the provision and support planned for the council’s on-going help to Syrian refugees: click here.

Collection of Clothes and Equipment for Refugees in Calais.

The Bromsgrove & Redditch Welcome Refugees (BRWR) committee is collecting items needed for the people stuck in horrid conditions in camps across Europe. St. John’s Church has kindly offered their Community hall next to the church for three Saturday afternoons for handing in donations for refugees.

The collection dates are Saturdays 19th March, 16th April and 14th May. People can drop off their items at the hall between 2pm and 5pm.  Please secure items in strong black bin bags of the kind normally used for domestic refuse. Bags need to be clearly labelled, stating for example the type and size of clothes. Men’s and women’s clothes need to be packed separately. Your aid will be taken on the same day by People in Motion to ship across to the refugee camps.

Anyone who wishes to make a donation is asked to read the following information carefully.

What donations do refugees need?

  1. Dignity packs: a full change of clothes for an individual. Include new underwear, thermal socks, joggers or leggings, two long sleeved tops, a hoody or fleece, all packed in a transparent bag and labelled by sex and size or age, e.g. ladies size 12. Include a small toy for children and toiletries for adults, e.g. toothbrush, deoderant, wipes, razor, comb, lip balm.
  2. Warm clothing, waterproof footwear – boots, wellies, trainers, particularly men’s sizes 41, 42, 43. Waterproof coats (small and medium sizes for men and women, all sizes for children). New underwear, new bras. Warm clothing, thermal socks, warm practical gloves, hats and scarves.
  3. Camping equipment. Quality complete tents, gas cooking stoves, small gas powered camping heaters, sleeping bags and warm quick drying blankets.

Don’t send loose toiletries, toys, quilts, duvets, pillows or any unsorted clothes

Money is valuable to cover the cost of People in Motion volunteers transporting goods and helping in Calais. To donate money to People in Motion send a letter to David Bland, Morfield, Rylands Road, Leominster, HR6 8PN enclosing a cheque made payable to the PCC (Parochial Church Council) of Leominster Priory stating that the donation is for Refugee Support, People in Motion.

Alternatively make a BACS payment to Sort Code 80-11-00 Account No: 06058724 putting the reference: REFUGEE SUPPORT. (Then Send a message to Elaine Lawson, Chair of People in Motion laylan@yahoo.co.uk   tel 07598320689 saying you have made the BACS payment.

VOLUNTEERS ARE NEEDED TO HELP ORGANISE THE COLLECTION AT St JOHN’s.. Please contact Naeem to volunteer:-

Further information can be obtained from Naeem Arif, Vice Chairman of BRWR: tel: 0772 2429 304 or email naeemarif57@gmail.com.

Collections for Refugee Camps

Bromsgrove Welcome Refugees (BRWR) committee is collecting needed items for the people stuck in horrid conditions in camps across Europe and Jordan. St. John’s Baptist Church has kindly offered their community hall for three Saturday afternoons to collect donations for refugees.

The collection dates are 19th March, 16th April and 14th May. People can drop off their aid between 2pm till 5pm.  Please secure items of aid in strong black bin bags that are normally used for domestic refuse.  Bags need to be clearly labeled, for example stating the type and size of clothes. Men’s and women’s clothes need to be packed separately. Your aid will be collected on the same day by People in Motion to ship across the refugee camps.

Anyone who wishes to make a donation is asked to read the following information carefully.

People in Motion

To donate money to People in Motion send a letter to David Bland, Morfield, Rylands Road, Leominster, HR6 8PN enclosing a cheque made payable to the PCC (Parochial Church Council) of Leominster Priory stating that the donation is for Refugee Support, People in Motion.

Alternatively make a BACS payment to Sort Code 80-11-00 Account No: 06058724 putting the reference: REFUGEE SUPPORT. (Then Send a message to Elaine Lawson, Chair of People in Motion laylan@yahoo.co.uk   tel 07598320689 saying you have made the BACS payment.

Bromsgrove & Redditch Welcome Refugees committee is a community organisation set up by local residents.  Its aim is to mobilize community support to complement services that will be offered to refugees by the Worcestershire district councils.  The committee will be working in collaboration with Bromsgrove council, local voluntary groups and support organizations, like People in Motion to provide a joined up support to refugees.

Further information can be obtained from Naeem Arif, vice chairman of BRWR on 07722429304 or by email naeemarif57@gmail.com

Report: Public meeting 17th February

A Personal View – Margaret Evans

Bromsgrove & Redditch Welcome Refugees (BRWR) public meeting on Wednesday 17th February saw the Parkside Council Chamber crowded with 132 people – more chairs were needed to seat us all.  BDC Council Chairperson, Caroline Spencer welcomed everybody. Yvonne Rendell the BRWR group chair spoke about how the group was formed. People were advised to visit this website: www.bromsgrovewelcomesrefugees.uk for more information.

IMG_20160217_203150

We listened to the reality of the refugee situation from two people who have spent time in the refugee camps in Calais and in Dunkirk. Bromsgrove Standard reporter, Anu Shukla, and Kirsty, from the organisation ‘People in Motion,’ both spoke of their experiences in talking to the thousands of displaced people in the camps. We saw photographs and a film, made by Anu, which gave refugees’ personal accounts.

Our keynote speaker, Professor Jenny Phillimore from Birmingham University, talked about the process of Integration for Refugees. Integration is about mutual adaptation, which means we must change as well, when refugees come here.  Their reception here can traumatise them further if not handled sensitively, but the welcome must be widespread so as not to alarm them. A third of refugees have encountered harassment towards women and children, who do not report it, which can encourage them to think ‘no-one wants me’ and lead to mental illness.

IMG_20160217_203608

After the welcoming, they must then be given time and space on their own to orient themselves: everything in their world will have changed for them – as well as the traumas they will have suffered. They may not be able to express themselves if they are depressed – not having the words to describe it. This is where mentoring and handholding can be helpful. Not until they feel safe will the enormity of their loss strike them: the loss of their entire world.

They will need to be directed and taken to places such as the library, the shops, or a place of worship. The places of worship need to be prepared and we need to talk to existing faith communities about what they can set up. Age and gender matching is important for mentoring and they need to be told local customs day by day. They need to be told what day to put the rubbish out, taken on local tours, helped to be self-sufficient. Refugees are the most sanctioned people in the UK – they must be told the rules that they must sign on, whatever their personal condition (sickness, even funeral attendance.) We can go with them to sign on. Our alien food can give them gastric problems. Our volunteers could give them cooking lessons.

They will need an opportunity to reconnect with family and friends via actual or virtual means. Our volunteers can perhaps take them to meet their families and friends in other places, on a regular basis. The government is inclined, with its rhetoric of fear, to disperse refugees thinly, which makes no sense. In the orientation phase clusters are proven to be better rather than being widely dispersed, to build up refugees’ confidence and prevent isolation, which of course can lead to mental illness. We could ensure they have access to wi fi for internet contact with friends through means such as Facebook, or What’s App.

Our government ignored the crisis for a long time, until the outcry after the publication of a photo of the drowned little boy, Alan, lying on a beach. They now are being reactive, not proactive.

IMG_20160217_203150

In Calais and Dunkirk, the camp residents are enterprising resilient people who speak English, have relatives or friends here, who may have trained here in the past, or visited as students. These are qualified, skilled people sitting on our doorstep, but the government is not allowing them in. Why are those with British passports not allowed to bring their families over here? There are people who speak English in the camps, who have trained over here and could be useful in helping others to integrate into our society. They may even want to start their own businesses, as refugees into this country have always done.

No, our government has instead decided that we should take the most vulnerable people from the Syrian refugee camps, who are probably illiterate, won’t speak English, have special needs and will need far more support to make their life over here. It is shameful that the whole of Worcestershire is only taking 50 people after April, when those more skilled refugees who could help with that support, are left to rot in France in the worst of weathers. Bromsgrove, Malvern, Droitwich, and now Kidderminster Wyre Forest are anxious to help and in process of forming welcoming groups. It seems obvious that we MUST take more into the UK from the nearby camps, for all our mutual benefit.

We will be faced with a disaster on an unprecedented scale if we do no more than just a knee jerk unthinking reaction to this crisis, which seems to be what has happened so far.

To conclude the meeting many questions were asked of the panel – Yvonne Rendell (Chair, BRWR) Naeem Arif, Anu Shukla, Kirsty, and Professor Jenny Phillimore.

These questions were:

  1. Where and when do the Arabic classes that were mentioned take place?
    2. Are there plans for ESOL classes for refugees, and is Heart of Worcestershire College engaged with it?
    3. Why are so few refugees coming to Bromsgrove/Worcestershire?
    4. Can we apply pressure on government and on our local MP to take more?
    5. What is BRWR’s forward planning to support refugees?
    6. Can we collaborate with neighbouring welcome groups e.g. Stourport and Bewdley support group?

At the end of the meeting, attendees, who had brought a huge quantity of donations to be sorted and taken direct to Dunkirk or Calais, helped load them into the van waiting outside.

Margaret Evans