We are delighted to announce that we are now working on a new project called ‘Empowering refugee and other migrant women’ in partnership with CDA (Community Development Agency) thanks to a grant from the Tampon Tax Community Fund. The project involves setting up and supporting women’s groups across the county to provide language support, holiday activities, and greater access to information. Our volunteer coordinator, Caroline Herring, will be working on this project, which will include support for mothers of young children who may need to learn English in a more informal setting.
At a recent group (pictured above), the women discussed visiting the doctor, building vocabulary and understanding the roles and practices of medical professionals. The refugee women and volunteers provided lunch, which included spinach and cheese pies, hummus, salad, and (amazing) Harissa cakes.
We hope to share more updates across the county as these groups become established.
An event for the families and volunteers from St Albans and Hatfield was held at Dagnall Street Church this January. There was a shared meal, craft activities, and games for the children. We were also treated to a musical performance on the Buzuq by Bahram from Dacorum - his first public performance!
We look forward to hearing more from Bahram and also send our thanks to Dagnall Street Church for the use of their premises.
HWSF's Annual General Meeting will take place on Tuesday 9th April at 7.30 PM at the Vineyard Church St Albans. All are welcome.
A report and agenda will be circulated to members before the meeting. If you are not already a registered member and would like to become one, please fill out the form below and return it to email@example.com
A speaker from HWSF will be giving a talk this weekend at St. Michael and All Angels Church in Hatfield as part of an interfaith service. The service begins at 6.30 pm and all are welcome. Come along to hear more about our work in the Welwyn Hatfield area.
It’s January but the HWSF gatherings continue.
On 2nd January, HWSF and the Welwyn Garden Quakers hosted a party for refugee families from Hatfield, East Herts and North Herts. The children were treated to face painting, craft activities, and games such as pass the parcel. HWSF volunteers mingled with the families, several of whom were related. The atmosphere was lovely with families catching up on news and delighted children trying on super hero masks.
New volunteers - including a translator and a mentor helping refugees prepare for the UK driving test - were on hand, getting to know the families better. The event was capped off with a slap-up tea and some energetic circle dancing.
I caught up with Enas, the young Syrian artist who has designed HWSF's Christmas cards over the past two years. She arrived in Hertfordshire a few years ago and has been involved with HWSF during that time. If you'd like to purchase a pack of the Christmas cards she's designed (pictured below), please e-mail Catherine@hwsf.org.uk with your address. The cards cost £5 for a pack of ten - all proceeds support the work of HWSF.
HWSF: Can you tell us about something inspiring your art right now?
Enas: When I left Syria after the war started, I travelled to Egypt. Seeing different cultures and new people inspired me.
HWSF: When did you know that you wanted to be an artist?
Enas: Since I was a child I spent most of my holiday time drawing. I love it.
HWSF: Do you have a favourite subject for your art?
Enas: I prefer making portraits [of people].
HWSF: Have you seen any art works since you arrived in the UK that you loved?
Enas: I went to London and saw a lot of paintings by famous artists such as Picasso and van Gogh. I was really happy about that.
HWSF: What are you working on at the moment?
Enas: I am learning English and developing my IT skills. In five years, I hope to be finishing my studies, finding a good job, and drawing new things.
HWSF: What do you like to do in your free time?
Enas: I like walking, exploring new places and painting.
HWSF: Is there anything else that you’d like people to know about you?
Enas: Every refugee comes from a war, but they carry many dreams and the energy to start a new life. Thanks for giving us this opportunity.
HWSF: Thank you, Enas! We really appreciate you answering these questions and designing such beautiful cards for us.
Christmas card designs by Enas.
There was a lot of laughter, singing and walking at the HWSF Dacorum, Watford and Three Rivers holiday party on Sunday 9 Dec.
Seventy-five of us gathered in Little Gaddesden village hall at noon and quickly got the children involved with pass-the-parcel. Seems to be a new favourite game!
After a buffet lunch, volunteers and families split into two groups: some went to the playground across the fields, while about thirty went on a walk into the beautiful Golden Valley.
After an hour of exercise and beautiful scenery, we returned to well-earned cake and hot cups of tea.
We were treated to singing from Bahram and Rachid, and the children enjoyed musical statues and chairs!
It was a wonderful afternoon seeing friends and meeting new ones and a lovely way to celebrate the holiday season.
Many thanks to all the volunteers, particularly Julia Bolton, for all their hard work and help in making it a brilliant day!
[Text and photo by Liv Bolton]
An article in the Herts Advertiser about the afternoon tea for Syrian refugees hosted by St Albans Masorti Synagogue and HWSF can be read here:
On Wednesday, 13 November, please tune in to Radio Verulam - 92.6 FM or www.radioverulam.com - at 19.20 to hear an interview with Karim, one of the Syrian refugees who has been involved with HWSF, as well as with our chair, Irene Austin.
Irene will be discussing HWSF's work, and Karim will discuss his experiences moving to Hertfordshire from Syria. We're looking forward to these voices and stories being shared widely.
Don't worry if you miss it. We'll be posting the podcast here when it comes out. Or you can catch up on Sunday morning at 9.20 am.
Would you like your name in the credits of a short film about HWSF?
Founding member of HWSF Katie Seaton, who is also a media composer and sound designer, is leading production of a short film to tell our story and that of one of the refugees living here now.
The sections devoted to the refugee's story will be realised in drawn stop-motion animation by artist Rosie Wyllie.
Take a look at Katie's little video, explaining more about the project:
Any donations towards production, even of a very small amount, will be incredibly useful to make this film as good as we possibly can. If you would like to be part of this project, please visit the crowd-funding page here! Any publicity you can offer by sharing this with people who may be interested would also be really useful.
The full details about the artists and the project can be found here:
Herts Welcomes Syrian Families - the movie
Any further questions are welcome! Please email Katie at firstname.lastname@example.org