Refugees

Champion – Jo Pellatt

Since early October 2016, a group of 6–8 people has been meeting weekly to provide a focus for the local Winchester response to the Refugee Crisis, following the Open Meeting at St Peter’s Pastoral Centre on 24 September.

Initially, research and discussion led to several recommendations:

  • That no more goods/volunteers to be sent to Calais – local charities supporting refugees in the camp there are already overwhelmed by donations.
  • Core group to recommend a charity each month that is supporting refugees, especially from the Syrian conflict.
    Donations to be sent direct to such charities if possible – otherwise via CTW Treasurer, or using JustGiving pages set up for the purpose.
  • Subsequently, Médecins Sans Frontières, Firefly and Aid to the Church in Need have been recommended for support, and over £2,000 has been sent to date via these channels to our knowledge – doubtless significantly more has been sent directly.

LATEST NEWS FLASH (November 2016) – Firefly International have taken a further step forward by helping a group of refugees to design, fund and set-up a youth education centre in Antakya, Turkey. Antakya is a city of one million with 200,000 refugees. The initial focus of the centre will be on reintegrating working refugee children back into school through fun after-work activities. From there they hope to increase the overall educational offering as they continue to raise more funds.

One member of the core group has been in constant touch with local authority contact persons, in order to provide information on the expected arrival of refugee families in the Winchester area. So far, three such families have arrived and are receiving support via the Red Cross, which is co-ordinating further support from the local Muslim community and from Churches Together in Winchester representatives.

At this stage it is not known for certain if additional refugee families will arrive in the near future, but it is possible that further families will need support during 2017.

Ongoing priorities:

  • Co-ordinating recommendations for support of charities working on the refugee crisis, especially those working directly in countries most affected.
  • Maintaining awareness of local interactions with refugees, and ensuring appropriate support of any immigrant families placed in the Winchester area.
  • Staying closely in touch with local agencies providing support to refugee families, e.g. Hampshire County Council, Winchester City Council, Red Cross, SWVG, Inter-Faith groups.
  • Providing up-to-date information on refugee crisis actions to local churches.
  • We have most recently recommended for support Firefly International, a small but very effective charity ‘building bridges through education and the arts’. They use artistic and educational programmes to provide young people with opportunities and support to develop their skills, confidence and networks, improving prospects for brighter futures for themselves and their communities. Firefly have worked with the Yadizi community in Kurdish Iraq and in all the Syrian Camps in Northern Jordan where they have trained nearly 100 Syrian and Yadizi teachers how to develop creative curriculums using Kitabna books, thus capacity building in the camps. Kitabna, ‘our book’ in Arabic, is a reading and writing project that began in Lebanon in 2014 for displaced Syrians and Palestinians. They have recently started a project to educate young Syrian girls who have taken refuge in Turkey.

More information can be found at http://fireflyinternational.org/ and donations can be made via https://www.justgiving.com/FireflyInternational/ or via the CTW Treasurer Peter McManus, c/o St Peter’s Church.

If you would like more information please speak to Jo Pellatt or Dorothy Lusmore or email us at refugees@ctwin.org.uk