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
We’re selling Christmas Cards for 2018! These two beautiful images were designed by Enas, a young Syrian artist, whom some of you may have heard speak at our last AGM. We are selling packs of 10 cards with envelopes for £5 to raise funds for HWSF.
The cards have the wording ‘Best Wishes’ in both English and Arabic.
They are available in packs of 10 of a single design or a mixed pack with 5 of each.
If you’d like to buy some, please e-mail: email@example.com and include your address.
As well as raising money for HWSF, the sale of cards last year also generated wider interest in our work so we hope you’ll support us as generously as last year.
People arriving at the HWSF Sussed Quiz Night in Welwyn Garden City this past September mentioned not knowing what to expect. They had been to traditional quiz nights, but didn’t really know what ‘a quiz with a difference’ would be like. They’d come along to support our charity, but before long they were answering questions both silly and serious about their teammates, guessing their preferences on diverse topics such as whether they’d be better at writing a love letter or freestyle rapping, whether they’d prefer to walk through virgin snow or start reading a new book.
One of the participants commented: “It was such fun. I haven’t laughed so much in years.” The event was held at St Francis Church Hall, and freshly made Syrian food was served. Raffle prizes included different tipples, chocolates, gift vouchers and other donated items. The room was packed with eighty supporters and we were thrilled to raise close to a thousand pounds on the night with the support of Games to Get, the creators of Sussed.
Attendees commented that the quiz was a fantastic idea, and that they’d had an absolutely wonderful time. We were happy that everyone had a laugh, raised money to support refugee families in Hertfordshire, and walked away knowing a little bit more about the friends and family they’d brought along on the night.
BBC Three Counties Radio broadcast a story featuring a number of HWSF members and Syrian families speaking about their experiences in Hertfordshire, discussing everything from housing provision to language lessons.
The piece was broadcast on 16th September, but you can listen to it again here: clyp.it/n1tovbwk
With summer drawing to an end, we’re looking back at all of the fantastic and varied events organised by HWSF for the Syrian children and their families across Hertfordshire.
We organised trips to the Stevenage Museum and the new St Albans Museum, as well as to Whipsnade Zoo. One of our newest volunteers in Dacorum organised the zoo trip, taking it upon herself to raise all of the money for the families’ admission fees.
An outing and picnic planned in Ashridge needed to be relocated to a village hall in Little Gaddesden after a sudden rainstorm, but when the sunshine returned, we managed to get outside for some sport and countryside rambling. The weather also caused a postponement of a sports day in Verulamium Park, but when we finally got the families together, they had great fun with a picnic and games, including hula-hoops and sack races. We also booked a court for Beach Volleyball on the day and were happy to see so many trying it out for the first time.
In Ware, families enjoyed a barge trip along the canal. There were also summer English classes and art classes in this area.
In Stevenage, we held a coffee, cake and chat morning which involved biscuit decorating and face painting for the children. The adults embarked on a sewing project, embroidering their names onto bunting.
Throughout August, in Hatfield, we’ve held a weekly conversation cafe, meant to foster friendships as well as improved English language skills. In addition, we held a tea party at the Quakers Meeting House in Welwyn Hatfield. A local company donated pizzas, and adults and children took part in games and activities.
Our families also attended Refugee Council events, including an employment-themed Learning Day and a Sports Day.
We want to thank our volunteers for their help in organising these events, fundraising, and for their ongoing assistance to the refugee families in our area. We’d also like to thank our supporters for all of their donations, which help to fund these events. All of this is planned with the intention of helping the refugee families to feel more comfortable in their new communities, to improve their English language skills, and to help them develop friendships and support systems in their new homes.
What do you want when organising a countryside picnic in August for 40 people? Sheeting rain is not one of them.
But our HWSF families and volunteers had a plan B and we gathered for an afternoon of fun at Little Gaddesden village hall on Friday 10 August.
We may not have been eating our picnics outside in Ashridge as originally planned, but there was bunting, balloons, and lots of delicious food.
And after a huge buffet lunch, the rain even stopped.
The children had fun in the big playground opposite the hall while another group of adults and teenagers took a short walk, admiring the beautiful view over the valley, exploring a church, and watching a flock of sheep running after a farmer. Back at the sports field, a game of French boules became amusingly competitive!
Our outdoor pursuits were rewarded back in the hall with cups of tea and delicious slices of cake brought by the volunteers.
But the best part of the afternoon was seeing the beginnings of new friendships and everyone coming together.
[Text and photos by Olivia Bolton]