Newsletter November 2016

Welcome to the final RRN Newsletter of 2016.  We have a new email address hello@ruralrefugeenetwork.org.  If you could please delete the old one from your address books that would be very helpful.  Please do get in touch with us on this new address with any enquiries or information.

Sarah Ali-Prosser, Editor

RRN Chairs Update

Thank you to all of our team who attended the Citizens UK training last month.  Bekele Woyecha and George Gabriel took 40 of us through a day’s training designed to make us all more effective community organisers.  It was a valuable and inspiring session and we’ve had some great volunteer offers as a result.It has been hard not to think of Calais over the past months.  Citizens UK managed to successfully bring some of the unaccompanied minors back which is a wonderful achievement.  It’s clear that there are still many unaccompanied minors who have now been moved to centres across France who have a legal and/or moral right to be in the UK.  Stay tuned to our Facebook group – Rural Refugee Network –  for updates and news on how to help.We are now actively looking for housing (especially in the Test Valley and Havant areas) for additional refugee families and for those who may be able to help provide supported lodging for unaccompanied minors.  If you wanted to attend the information session on providing supported lodging but weren’t able to – please do get in touch and we can provide you with further information in confidence.

This will be the last Newsletter of 2016.  We wanted to take the opportunity to say a very big thank you to the very many of you of have helped us this year – both members of the RRN team and in our wider circle of RRN friends.  A significant number of Syrians are now safe, and settling into life in the UK really well, thanks to your efforts.

We mentioned earlier in the year that our work would be more of a marathon than a sprint.  In this spirit we hope that you’ll all help us maintain the wonderful levels of passion and commitment so that we can rescue many more refugees in the year to come.

With love and very best wishes for a wonderful holiday season.

Jules and Kaaren

Citizens UK Training 

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On Saturday 15th October about 40 of us convened to meet with Citizens UK and have a day long training session with them. I think most people were as satisfied as I was with the day (very!) but I think we all took different things away with us. So, what follows is a personal account, and I think we would be delighted to hear from others about their experience of the day.

It was a great opportunity to meet with other members of the RRN and it would be nice to think we could repeat that more regularly. As it transpired, it was also a real privilege to hear about the work of Citizens UK. We spent most of the day learning how to be more effective in dealing with those who resist the idea of providing support, in all and any of its forms, to refugees. Those in power, particularly, but society in general too. Establishing rapport, being focused, staying positive and empathising were the main keys to making progress with such people and we were shown how to develop these skills by the Citizens UK. We heard that their work is normally focused on helping to develop networks of motivated people to apply pressure to government and other official organisations to bring about change in areas of social justice; organising communities to work for the common good.

I had, frankly, arrived feeling pretty powerless and depressed at societies apparent disregard of these things. By the end of the day I found myself inspired and full of hope for change. I was heartened by the commitment and enthusiasm that was apparent in the Citizens UK talk, and indeed from the room in general. I left feeling we can make things better if we work together. I remembered a quote, “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”

I would really welcome more opportunities for us to meet and network like this, it might be useful and it is definitely fun!

Kay Summerfield

Easy Fundraising

Did you know that whenever you buy anything online – from your weekly shop to your annual holiday – you could be collecting free donations for Rural Refugee Network?

There are over 3,000 shops and sites on board ready to make a donation, including Amazon, John Lewis, Aviva, thetrainline and Sainsbury’s – it doesn’t cost you a penny extra!

It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3…

1. Head to:-
https://www.easyfundraising.org.uk/causes/ruralrefugeenetwork and join for FREE

2. Every time you shop online, go to easyfundraising first to find the site you want and start shopping.

3. After you’ve checked out, that retailer will make a donation to your good cause for no extra cost whatsoever!

There are no catches or hidden charges and Rural Refugee Network will be really grateful for your donations.

Thank you for your support.

Fundraising Team Update

Thanks to great efforts by Emily Mott, the cosmetics company Lush have given the RRN £3,000 from their foundation.  The majority of their funding is ‘allocated to small, grassroots groups that are often best placed to make a real difference with limited resources and often struggle to find funding.’  Lush says they concentrate on supporting small, grassroots organisations around the world working in human rights, environment and animal protection.

On 28th November, Rogate holds its Christmas Market and we are one of three charities who will benefit from the proceeds so if you can, please go along and support the village market.

Last year, there was a great turnout for the family walk and this year we hope to get even more people along. The date for you diary is 5th February. Meeting at Elsted Village Hall at 10 for a 10.30 start and a walk across the Downs. And what is more, there will be hot drinks and cake at the end – who can ask for anything better.

Another date for your diary is 18th May when we will have the second annual 33 Art Sale which will again be at Bordean House. We are investigating doing an art show fringe event with businesses in Petersfield ‘hosting’ local artists’ work but more on that as the idea develops.

We know there is a real need for an updated leaflet and work is underway to get that done as well as a basic information pack which can be used by everyone from people putting in grant applications to supporters who want to hold a supper or other small event to support us. Please bear with us and we will get it done as soon as we can!

Our planned Syrian Cooking demonstration Saturday 19th November is all sold out… Two Syrian ladies will be demonstrating their style of Syrian cooking,  participants will be invited to get involved then all sit down and enjoy a delicious meal.
For details of future such events please contact Clare Masson at RRN.

Sarah Green

Unaccompanied Children’s Initiative

We were very lucky to have had Bekele and George at the workshop and it was heartening to hear the news on the day that some of the children were en route to England.

Our work in the Unaccompanied Children’s Initiative has been inexplicably tied to the situation in Calais and Europe because so many of the children have made it to England under their own steam and many are being supported by Hampshire County Council as part of the Kent Transfer Scheme.

As you know, Hampshire County has agreed to support 167 of the children and we are working to help recruit carers. Thus far, quite a few people who attended our recruitment session are moving ahead with assessment for both supported lodgings and foster caring.

Under the new Immigration Act 2016, the government has the power to require local authorities to cooperate in the transfer of unaccompanied migrant children from one local authority to another. Therefore, it is vital that across England practitioners have the knowledge and ability to accommodate and respond to the needs of these children, many of whom may have been trafficked or have undergone traumatic experiences at home or en route to the UK.

One of the important issues that was raised at our first recruitment was the need for proper mental health care of the children. RRN’s Unaccompanied Children’s Initiative group is organising face-to-face training for foster carers and support workers on the care of separated children seeking asylum and child victims of trafficking. This course has been developed in association with Simply Fostering Consultancy and organised by ECPAT UK with the support of the Department for Education and the Refugee Council. Claire Kirby is organising this and we plan to have a date for early December. Please register to attend this FREE course by emailing us.

Update from Liz Clegg, on the ground in Calais:

UNHCR attended a meeting with the Sous-Préfecture and the UK Border Force (UKBF) in Calais. Charities and NGOs, including MSF, France Terre d’Asile (FTDA), Salam, l’Auberge des Migrants, Save the Children and Citizens UK also attended.

The French and the British authorities explained the plan for the 1,500 unaccompanied and separated children (UASC) staying in the CAP (the container camp) to be moved to CAO for minors (CAOMI) on 2nd Nov 2016

  • The children moved to a CAOMI during the initial operation will also be visited and interviewed by the HO;
  • The women (378 including 167 UASC) in the Jules Ferry Centre will be moved either to CAO for families or CAOMI for girls.

As for the Dublin family reunifications & other solutions for UASC, here are the latest figures:

  • 1,335 UASC interviewed by FTDA / Home Office including Dubs pre-screening interviews by FTDA in the last 10 days.
  • 312 UASC including 60 Dubs cases were transferred to the UK until now.

UNHCR requested a particular care for young UASC (under 14). UNHCR also contacted a representative of the French Ministry of the Interior (who is in Calais for the move) in order to organise the support to the operation. For the time being, the Sous-Préfet asks UNHCR to inform UASC during the operation.

We welcome this action to process and safeguard the minors from both the French and UK governments, whilst condemning the length of time it has taken to reach this point.

We especially thank everyone who has kept the pressure up by campaigning, tweeting, emailing and calling your MPs over the past week. Who knows how much longer, if at all, this action would have taken otherwise.

Emily Mott

Education Team Update

We have been pretty quiet as two of our three families are now receiving ESOL classes three times a week. However, because of the wonderful relationships built between our teachers and the families, some teachers have continued to offer lessons on top of the ESOL provision.

A very big thank you goes to all our teachers who continue to help ensure that our Syrian friends have every opportunity to learn English and also something about the culture of living here in the UK.

We have been extremely successful with the sewing project. A sincere thank you goes to Amanda Todd who has been hard at work sourcing a hall and finding sewing machines. We are just waiting to hear what times our families can meet up in Liss to get the project off the ground. Thanks goes to the Margaret Cropper Trust for their very generous grant to support this project. The idea behind the project is to help provide sewing skills so the families can find work, which will not be dependent on having English as a first language.  We have some volunteers to help with this project and always need more so if anyone wants to get involved please email hello@ruralrefugeenetwork.com.

On a different note – I have attended a few meetings in churches to give a talk about the work of the RRN. It always amazes me how these talks lead to new opportunities. We now have a contact who can offer training in painting and decorating for our refugee friends and another contact that has successfully managed to source homes through a church community action project. These talks are so valuable as every little offer of help leads to new developments in RRN.

Lastly we are about to launch our assembly plan for all schools. The idea is for an assembly script to go out to all schools to promote the work of the RRN.  The assembly includes our RRN videos and making an origami boat. The assembly script has been sent to a few schools to pilot and as soon as we get feedback we will be emailing as many schools as we can. If you would like to present this assembly in your local school please contact the education team on hello@ruralrefugeenetwork.com.

Rosie Lennon

Interfaith Update

On Saturday 5th November I was invited on behalf of the Rural Refugee Network to speak at the Woman’s Southern Conference for The Church of the Latter Day Saints (the Mormon Community) based in Staines.

The work of the Rural Refugee Network had come to the attention of this community through the media and they were keen to find out how the network was founded, how it is organised and how members of their community could be of assistance. The Church of the Latter Day Saints is a worldwide community who have well established charitable links. I was introduced to Sister Rebecca Stay, the Welfare Specialist and Refugee Aid coordinator for the European Area. Rebecca explained that since 1985 the Latter Day Saints charities have worked with partners’ world-wide to provide aid to those in need, regardless of culture and religious beliefs. LDS charities provide emergency assistance when disasters occur and provide long-term aid through signature programs such as clean water projects, wheelchair provision, maternal and newborn care, immunization campaigns, and food production training, as well as a variety of local community projects. Sister Rebecca had visited the refugee Yazidi community based on Mount Olympus in Greece and members of LDS had taken emergency aid supplies to Calais before the destruction of “The Jungle”. The Mayor of Sunbury East Ward, Cllr. Alfred Friday also spoke at the conference and supports any work to assist refugees as his wife’s parents came to England as refugees themselves from the Holocaust.

The LDS southern members were interested in and full of admiration about the achievements of the Rural Refugee Network and were explicit in their offer to help in any way they can. I am sure that they will prove to be great friends to our network and the welcome I received as a member of the RRN was heartening. To learn more visit  https://www.ldscharities.org/
Reverend Alice Wood