Newsletter June 2021

The Latest News and Happenings

Volunteer Week: a big thank you to all our wonderful volunteers

We were thrilled to celebrate #VolunteersWeek in the first week of June this year.

Our volunteers fundraise, source donations, teach and welcome refugees and asylum seekers to Bath, always with a smile. We have HUGE gratitude to the many volunteers who are the heart of Bath Welcomes Refugees. Thank you for all you do!

BWR joins the #FamiliesTogether coalition

Bath Welcomes Refugees is one of 50 organisations to join the Families Together Coalition, calling on the UK government to amend the existing family reunion rules.

The Families Together coalition is calling on the UK government to:

  • Change the refugee family reunion rules so that they allow adult refugees in the UK to sponsor their children and siblings up to the age of 25 to join them in the UK, and their parents;
  • Give unaccompanied refugee children in the United Kingdom the right to sponsor their parents and siblings who are under the age of 25 to join them under the refugee family reunion rules;
  • Reintroduce legal aid for all refugee family reunion cases.

You can find out more about the coalition on their website. If you’d like to sign the petition to Boris Johnson calling for refugee families to be reunited, you can do so here.

Could you be a foster carer for an unaccompanied child seeking asylum?

B&NES council is actively seeking new foster carers for Unaccompanied Asylum Seeker Children.

The council offers support and training for this specialised foster care role.

You need to be over 21 years of age, have a spare room, be generally fit and well (but please call to discuss if this is a concern), have the right to remain in the UK and no criminal offences that prevent you working with children.

If you are interested please call 01225 394949 or get started by completing an online quiz.

There is more information available on our Twitter feed: @FosteringBANES and Facebook page: Fostering, Bath and North East Somerset

Meet our new Safeguarding Lead: Christine Brown

Hello BWR! I am Christine Brown and I took over the Safeguarding Lead role for BWR on Monday 22 March.

I have lived in and close to Bath for over 30 years. My background is in social work with children and young people. We moved the family to Bath in the 1980s to enable me to study Sociology and Social Work for 4 years at the University of Bath and we have stayed local ever since. I worked mainly in Local Authority children’s teams until I retired nearly 7 years ago. For the final 12 years of my working life I managed Social Workers and Occupational Therapists in a Child Health and Disability Team. I’ve never practiced in adult teams but have a basic understanding of the legislation covering vulnerable adults. I’m also a Yoga teacher and Yoga is a part of my daily life.

My belief is that safeguarding is everyone’s business and that having an organisational culture of vigilance, supported by good procedures and support, offers protection to everyone connected to an organisation. In the case of BWR that includes the families we work with; the volunteers; the management committee; trustees and employees. Although legislation and good practice guidance have evolved since my retirement, the basic principles of protecting children, young people and adults from significant harm remain unaltered.

I am really looking forward to becoming a part of the BWR team and hope my experience will allow me to continue and further develop the good work already undertaken by BWR to ensure it is in the best place to fulfil its safeguarding responsibilities. I’ll be working with the management committee to understand how I can best support BWR as we go forwards. Developing a rolling programme of safeguarding training for volunteers is one of the ways I hope to help with and details of this will be sent out over the following months.

Finally, my recent reading of the considerable achievements of BWR, undertaken by the hard working and dedicated volunteers, leaves me humbled so it feels a privilege to join you in this important work.

I really hope to be able to meet you when circumstances allow. Until then, if you have a non urgent safeguarding concern or just wish to chat through an issue, please contact me using the Safeguarding email:

[email protected]

I check this email every day and will get back to you to arrange the best way forward. However, if the matter is urgent or critical please call the Emergency Services on 999 in the first instance.

Best wishes and thank you to everyone for welcoming me so warmly.

Christine

University of Bath welcomes refugees, too

Refugee families enjoyed a Holiday Sports Activity Afternoon and Employability Support Session arranged by The University of Bath at their Sports Training Village and Claverton campus on June 1, 2021

There were multi-sports activities for the younger children that involved a lot of running about and laughing and general active fun. It proved so popular it was hard to pull some of them away at the end of the day.

The older children were offered an introduction to football training which left them desperate for more, and fortunately there is an option for them to go back and undertake more training and achieve a coaching qualification in the future.

The Sports Training Village was much admired, as were the campus facilities in their entirety. I’m sure many children went away with a strong desire for university life.

Employability support was offered to the adults in both group and 1-2-1 sessions. Members of the placement team gave advice on CVs and Interview techniques and discussed individual aims and pathways to success.

Not only was this a free event, the UOB generously organised taxis to take people to and from. We are so grateful for their support.

Days like this, coming after multiple lockdowns, are a great reminder of the real joys of volunteering with refugees.

Bath Welcomes Refugees are particularly grateful to Kate Awdry, Widening Participation Officer at the UOB, and Miranda Dockley, Student Outreach Ambassador, for the thought and preparation that went into this.

We’d also like to thank the many volunteers from the University who were involved in translating, interpreting, sports training and facilitation, employability support, and general assistance on the day.

Volunteers help make a house a home for new Syrian family

We are very happy to have welcomed another Syrian family to Bath during May.

All the furniture and most of the other household items had been donated to us.

Thank you to everyone who has given and gathered items, everyone who helped carry items (especially the big ones), Tony and Luc for their DIY skills, Lisa from Touchsafe Ltd for testing the electrical items and Lucy for making the garden look welcoming.

We hope they will be very happy in their new home.

New bicycles for a new family in Bath

Bath Welcomes Refugees welcomed the first refugee family under Community Sponsorship in March this year.The Syrian family of six arrived to a warm welcome. The Community Sponsorship team would like to thank Mike and the members of the Walcot Cycle Club for sourcing bicycles for the newly arrived family, and Tom at Green Park cycles for servicing them. We are very grateful for your support!

Newsletter Autumn 2020

OVERVIEW:
– Community Sponsorship
– Join the Team
– Covid Updates
– Taste of Freedom

A warm hello to all of our members! We hope you have all kept well over this tumultuous time, and we would like to thank you for your continued support for Bath Welcomes Refugees.

Life has been on pause, but our work has not. We are happy to launch our Newsletter which, on a quarterly basis, will keep you up to date with what we have been doing as well as telling you about our future projects.

We thought now was a great time to launch the newsletter, as we have some long-awaited and exciting news to share. We have recently been given approval from the Home Office to become an official Community Sponsor. We also have some updates from our various teams on how they have been busy during and since lockdown, as well as some tasty content to share.

Community Sponsorship
So, what is Community Sponsorship? Well, in 2016 the Home Office introduced a scheme which allows charity groups and organisations to take on the responsibility of resettling refugee families in the UK. The overall goal of this scheme is to ensure that the families are able to settle, find independence, feel at home, and be welcomed into their community.

BWR’s Community Sponsorship
The Community Sponsorship Scheme gives us the opportunity to respond practically to the ongoing global refugee crisis and provide a safe path for refugees to resettle in the UK. This has been a goal of BWR since the early days, and in May 2019 we began the lengthy application process to become a Community Sponsor.

The journey so far, and how you can help us

John, Overseer and Resettlement Volunteer. Linda, BWR Management Liaison. Bob, Project Leader. Sue, School Liaison, Resettlement Volunteer, and Language Support

We have a team of four (pictured above) at the moment who have put together the application, met with the local council and the Home Office and obtained approval to be a Community Sponsor. We have now also found a home for our first family, and once they have been identified by the Home Office we will begin to find schools for the children and arrange other practical things such as opening bank accounts, sorting out benefits, organising English language support, and identifying classes or social activities which may be of interest to the family.

The next steps in this process involve how you may be able to help us! We currently have 4 roles which need filling:

  • A fifth member of the core team; ideally good with IT and Admin.
  • A ‘go between’; someone with lots of availability and good DIY skills, someone to communicate with the landlord/landlady and the family to assist with any practical housing issues.
  • Two more Resettlement Volunteers; ideally of similar cultural and religious background and who are local to the Twerton area where the family will be located.

All volunteers working with refugees are required to have a DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check and to undergo safeguarding training before meeting with the family members.

If you are interested in any of these roles, then please email us at:

[email protected]

Or, if you would like some more information, then please email:
[email protected]

BWR is thrilled to finally be approved as a Community Sponsor and we look forward to welcoming our first family in the next few months, Covid-permitting!

Covid Updates from our Teams

Rose Cottage – Sara Barna

Sadly the monthly social gatherings for families at Rose Cottage were suspended in March and there is really no prospect of restarting in a safe and enjoyable way whilst social distancing is still needed. Fortunately most of the families are in contact with each other, both informally through social media and through online classes, and children have now returned to school. We very much miss seeing everyone and will restart sessions as soon as it is safe to do so.

Language Team – Alice Herve

The BWR Language Team has had to make a wide variety of adaptations whilst coming to terms with online teaching. Four times weekly English group classes were up and running on Zoom by the end of March 2020 and will continue for the foreseeable future. We even picked up extra students along the way who could not find another outlet in Bath offering ESOL at that time. Many of the 1-2-1 sessions also moved online during the initial stages of the pandemic.

Within Government guidelines we have now started to offer some face to face sessions again. But we look forward to being able to resume normal service again soon, as we miss seeing everyone!

Donations of Goods Team – Linda Walz and Lesley Bowes

Sadly, COVID restrictions mean there are no new families coming to Bath currently and, therefore, no houses to prepare. With limited storage facilities this means we are having to reject kind offers of furniture and household goods for the time being, which is very frustrating! We would like to thank everybody who continues to think of us. We are continuing to support existing families, in particular liaising with Lucy in the gardening team. If anybody has access to storage facilities, we would be delighted to hear from you!

Taste of Freedom
By Jenny Sowerby
Jenny Sowerby brings us Volume 2 of a cookbook packed with recipes from Syrian families living in Bath, who have been a part of the UN’s Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme, and further afield. This follows on from the great success of Volume 1 which raised £10,000. 100% of the money from the sales of these inspiring books will go to Bath Welcomes Refugees and Doctors of the World UK. You can buy yourself a copy here.