Champion – Jo Pellatt
Winchester Refugees Update
A working group of members of Churches Together in Winchester has been operating for almost three years to support the Syrian refugee families that are being accommodated in the Winchester area. We supplement the statutory provision of basic furnishings and facilities in a variety of ways, as well as providing support and friendship as they settle into our community. We organise several events/outings each year to provide fellowship and fun. Where possible we like to have a ‘buddy’ who can commit to befriend and support a particular family and give them a first point of contact – if this is something that you feel you could do we would be glad to hear from you in case of new families arriving. It does require a level of commitment on an ongoing basis.
There are 40 family members in our community to date most of whom have settled in well and it is wonderful to see some really positive progress. Some of those who have been here longest have now been able to secure employment, giving an important boost to their confidence and psychological well-being; we are hopeful that one of the young men will shortly fulfil his long-held ambition to secure employment to progress as a motor mechanic. Similarly, a place in a local salon is looking promising for a recently qualified (from ACE) hairdresser. Another recent positive achievement has been the first person to pass their British Driving Test – an impressive milestone for someone who spoke not a word of English on arrival in Winchester. The family have been able to purchase a second-hand car and the independence this has brought makes a big difference to them. Just recently ‘our’ families took part in a Family Fun Day organised by the University of Winchester and the Rural Refugee Network, when we were delighted to welcome the latest addition to the group, a baby girl born in late June.
All this work requires funding, and, so far, we have received nearly £8,000 from several member churches and some individuals. Nearly all this money has been spent, and so this is a request for any member church or interested individual to provide funds so that we can continue to welcome any additional families that arrive in the near future, as well as meeting the ongoing needs of our existing families.
Hampshire County Council are committed to hosting as many families as there is accommodation for and so any offers of houses for rent (at housing allowance rates) would be very welcome. HCC are working hard to provide the best support possible and have a dedicated officer to help achieve this. There will also be a hub to host sessions such as work related English lessons; help with H&S exams; provision of internet access and guidance on budgeting etc. As well as Syrian families arriving under the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme, HCC is also welcoming those from the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) area who qualify under the vulnerable children’s scheme.
Can you help? –
- Buddies for families (long term commitment)
- Funds to facilitate support and equipment (address to Treasurer, Churches Together in Winchester, c/o St Peter’s, Jewry St, SO23 8RY)
- Rental accommodation – HCC has a list of families waiting to come.
For any further details contact firstname.lastname@example.org