Newsletter March 2018

Newsletter March 2018

Chairs Report

Thank you all for your support at the Annual Walk for Hope last month in Elsted, it was great to see how much support is still out there. It was very poignant to be joined by many of the families whose lives you have all helped to transform. Hearing the individual testimonies of Rahaf and Hanine was incredibly moving and was a much needed reminder of the importance of the work we are doing.

The news from Syria continues to be horrific and our volunteers are consistently urging us to do more to help outside the UK. Over the past few months we’ve met and spoken with several amazing charities that are working in and around Syria and in some of the camps around Europe to discuss how we might help.

One of the charities that most inspired us was Children on the Edge, who are based in Chichester and do incredible work in troubled areas with young people on the very margins. Many of these children are without parental care, neglected or persecuted by their own governments, ignored by the international media and missed by large overseas agencies. The trustees were unanimous that we should partner with them and I am delighted to announce this is going ahead.

Sarah Green, RRN’s Head of Fundraising and I are going to meet them to formalize this relationship after Easter and we will be able to update you in the next Newsletter. However, we are agreed that we will be supporting them in their works in the camps in Lebanon.

You can read more about their amazing work here https://www.childrenontheedge.org/lebanon-education-for-syrian-refugee-children.html

Here in the UK the hunt for housing for refugees continues. We can only help save lives with the generosity of private landlords and are in awe of those who are prepared to help in this way. We need your help to look for new houses please. Over 40% of the accommodation RRN has sourced has come from landlords with religious beliefs. This is why we’re calling on our all volunteers and supporters to help us by contacting their local religious organisations (mosques, churches, synagogues etc.) to see if they would be prepared to help us. These groups can help us by inviting a Trustee to speak to their congregation, putting up RRN housing material and by putting a call out in their

newsletters and on their websites. Please see Kate Grocott’s housing section below for more details and remember landlords do get paid rents, including void costs where applicable.

We are very pleased to be welcoming Nadia Potts to the RRN team from this month. We’ve worked with Nadia at the British Red Cross for the past two years where she has been passionate in her dedication to not only the new arrivals but also to helping the RRN team grow – most often in her own time! Nadia joins us as the RRN Operations and Volunteer Manager and she will help us recruit and manage our volunteers more effectively, as well as lead the creation of a calendar of RRN training and events. Nadia will work for RRN part time and continue to work with the Red Cross.

If you haven’t already done so please do join our Facebook group (Rural Refugee Network) and bookmark our website www.ruralrefugeenetwork.org as we will be posting news of volunteer roles soon.

Thank you so much for your continued support.

Jules Thistleton-Smith

Housing Team Update

We have started 2018 by welcoming the Syrian family into the 3 bedroom house in Havant which was purchased by the Rowland’s Castle church group. The PR articles that were published in The Pompey Chimes about the RRN and the Rowland’s Castle syndicate have raised a lot of interest with other church goers: vicars and members of the congregation in churches in Emsworth, Warblington and Botley are all looking into following the lead of the Rowland’s Castle church group and creating their own syndicates. Terry and Mandy Monahan are happy to act as advisors to any new syndicate, including in the preparation of the Deed of Trust with a conveyance solicitor; hopefully following a format that’s already been successful will speed up the process for any subsequent syndicates.

While this interest by subsequent syndicates is wonderful news, we are still looking for properties owned by independent landlords too. We are looking into a few potential properties in Botley and Liss but still need to keep raising awareness of the RRN and calling out for properties. We are aiming to secure articles in parish or community newsletters, to reach as many residents as possible, not just churchgoers who may have seen the Pompey Chimes articles. Therefore, please could each of you send the contact details for your local parish or community newsletter to me at kmelister@yahoo.co.uk – if you could use ‘Newsletter contact for Housing Team’ in the email title, it would help my inbox! Thanks in advance.

We have also prepared a ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ document for potential landlords, to cover the questions they may have about offering a property to us. This will be available both electronically and in printed format; please let me know if you would like a copy.

RRN Works Update

Hampshire County Council with Concept Training has set up the following LIST project in Kings Worthy. (Language for Industrial Skills Training).

LIST is a holistic programme for refugees who have been resettled under the SVPRS and VCRS. It incorporates English language training, industrial skills, work skills and the opportunity to gain qualifications within a psychologically informed environment.

It is currently being delivered in Kent by Concept Training and learners there are benefiting a great deal. It now includes programmes for teenagers, women and mothers with babies and so has really expanded during the past 2 years.

For Hampshire the early part of the year was spent getting the premises and logistics sorted for the course to start properly in March in Kings Worthy. The first group of 10 Syrian refugees started on the 5th March. With the first day being “Skills / Needs Analysis”.

The course starts by thoroughly getting to know their backgrounds, aspirations, skills etc. as well as carry out an ESOL assessment for each.

Their delivery in Hampshire will seek to work in partnership with businesses and organisations to provide learners with volunteering, work trial and sponsorship opportunities. HCC is investigating within the Economic Development department, as well as the Small Business Association to start discussions about work opportunities in the future, however if anyone has or knows of any companies or organisations that is looking for internships, trainees to get in contact.

Or if anyone does have access to any classroom furniture or workshop equipment do please let me know as every little helps.

Rob Lamond & Clare Masson

Befriending Team Update

We are looking forward to working with Two Saints and supporting their work with the resettlement process. We have also been giving thought to the development of Community Teams amongst volunteers in preparation for future arrivals. Meanwhile, the Befrienders have been doing some great work with the help of volunteers from further afield in organising regular monthly meet-ups between the families we have been working with and some other Arabic-speaking families we have been brought into contact with. These have been happening on Saturdays once a month at the Crossover Centre in Liss (and huge thanks go to the team there for welcoming us in and helping to organise the get-togethers) and provide a unique opportunity for the families to get together in a familiar and relaxed setting, with our volunteers helping out with transport and organisation.

Sarah Ali-Prosser

Resettlement Team Update

It has been a quiet few months with no new houses over winter. Instead we have been working with some of the families, helping them adjust to our unique, wonderful and at times rather damp climate. Some of the things we are so used to managing (keeping homes warm and well ventilated) are unknown to our new neighbours who come from a dryer climate. The families we’ve spoken to are used to snow (much worse than we’ve had over the last month!) and are used to very cold conditions …but the dampness – and the problems it can cause – is something new!

Following the last cross-team meeting, we are fortunate to welcome some new volunteers to our team. They, together with our dedicated, experienced ‘old hands’ are eagerly awaiting properties that we can to turn into homes for new families.

Kirsty & Steve Thomas

Fundraising Team Update

We’re very much looking forward to being part of this year’s Festival of Music, which takes place in Liss, Greatham and Petersfield in April and May (see details below).

We’d also love to hear from anyone who has a great idea on how to raise money for the RRN. We are a small friendly team on the fundraising committee and would loved to hear from anyone who would like to join us or has a great idea on how to raise money – however big or small the idea.Do contact us through hello@ruralrefugeenetwork.org

Just in case you are wondering where the publicity is on the 33 Art Sale, we have decided to have a year off this year and will be organising a number of smaller events in its place. The good news is that it will be back next year.

A date for your dairy

We are thrilled to have been chosen as one of the beneficiary charities from the Festival of Music, where we will be receiving donations from making and serving Syrian food. If you would like to help out at this event please e-mail hello@ruralrefugeenetwork.org. This will be a lovely evening so do put the date in your diary and come along.

Sarah Green

A Celebration of Syrian Music and food culture
Rihab Azar and Trio Zamaan

Saturday 5th May 5pm
Spirit of Music Festival, Festival Site, Greatham

Experience this young Syrian virtuoso on the Eastern traditional string instrument, the
Oud, in trio with double bass and drums. Hear some traditional and classical tunes and
catch the chance to learn some folk songs. Have a taster of Syrian food provided by
the Rural Refugee Network.

Tickets £10 (students+teens £5, children free)

From The Triangle Centre, Liss, by calling 01730 301000
(Mon-Fri 9am- 1pm or Sat 10am – 11.30am

For more information on the Festival go to www.spiritofmusicfestival.org.uk

Walk for Hope

Cream tea kindly provided by one of the families

Unaccompanied Children from Safe Passage

On 24th October campaigners and unaccompanied asylum seeking children met in front of Parliament to commemorate the anniversary of the camp closure at Calais.

Children who had been transfered to the UK through Safe Passage presented a plaque to Parliament: ‘We thank the British people and Parliament for giving us peace. We found a beautiful life in the UK, so different to the life we fled. We were suffering, but now we are safe.’

The 250-strong crowd heard from Yvette Cooper MP, chair of the Commons select committee on home affairs. She urged the government to take urgent action to complete the transfer of unaccompanied child refugees, agreed last year.

Beth Gardiner-Smith, senior campaigns organiser for Safe Passage, which helped organise the event, along with Help Refugees said: “We acknowledge the efforts made by the government 12 months ago, but fear there is no longer a sense of urgency about what is still a crisis. There are some 200 unaccompanied children in and around Calais, sleeping rough in woods and at the mercy of traffickers. We’ve heard disturbing reports that police have been using pepper spray, directly at children, to disperse them at night.

“This shouldn’t be happening. Last year it took just days to safely and legally reunite children with their families in Britain. Now, it can take up to a year. We’re talking about vulnerable young people who are scared and losing faith in a system that is legal and instead risking their lives attempting dangerous routes. The UK and French Governments must now urgently improve access to safe and legal routes for these children.”

Emily Mott

Cross Team Meeting

Please come along and join us at the next cross team meeting which will be on Monday 23rd April 6.30pm at Winton House, 18 High Street, Petersfield, GU32 3JL.

Light refreshments and parking is available. http://www.wintonhousecentre.org.uk

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