Update on arrivals
Syrian families currently being resettled in Stevenage, Watford and St Albans will be joined over the next few months by families in North Herts, East Herts and Welwyn Hatfield, though these arrivals have yet to be confirmed. The latest families are happy to have arrived, which we were really pleased to hear.
Donations, fundraising & volunteering update
We are very grateful for all your support: donations of toys, clothes etc; applications for voluntary positions; financial donations. These all help and are earning us a reputation for being useful! We anticipate helping local councils to source furniture in the future, too.
Katie is keeping a record of HWSF volunteers prepared to transport goods we are providing to the families or a storage place. We already have seven kind volunteers, for which we are very grateful, as it takes work away from the committee (we were struggling a bit!). If you would be prepared to help out this way, especially if you’re in the north or west of the county, please do email Katie (firstname.lastname@example.org). She is also looking for someone who could take over the role of organising the drivers.
Our bank account is now up and running (and thanks to treasurer Mick for his work on this). If you would like to hold a fund raising event for HWSF, or can ask for donations from your church, mosque, local business or your place of work, we would be delighted! Funds are needed for all sorts of things. Every family has different needs and we have to respond to each individually, but we may well need to buy laptops to help with school work and language learning, and have already purchased school uniforms.
Volunteering in Dacorum
If you are interested in volunteering in Dacorum, Community Action Dacorum and Volunteer Centre Dacorum will be supporting the Council to recruit a variety of volunteers, from community buddies to interpreters. If you would like to find out more information on how you can volunteer please contact Richard Pittsrichard@volunteerdacorum.org.
Volunteers’ mutual support meeting – pilot in East Herts
If you live in the Hertford area, or nearby, you are invited to an informal meeting at the Friends Meeting House, Railway Street, Hertford, at 8pm on Monday 23rd May. This is to enable local supporters to meet each other, discuss issues concerning the Syrian arrivals, and consider how we can best support them locally. If this proves valuable, we can look to arrange similar groups around the county. Please contact Catherine via the contact form on the website if you can attend.
And on the next day, in the Rickmansworth area…
Members and supporters in the area are warmly invited to join a meeting on 24th May at St. Peter's Church, Berry Lane, Mill End, Rickmansworth, WD3 7HQ. The meeting starts at 7.30pm and aims to inform people of the current situation in Syria, the plans to welcome Syrian families to Hertfordshire and how individuals can help. It is being hosted by the Rev Simon Cutmore and will be attended by the lead officer at Rickmansworth Council and Hannah Picking from the Refugee Council. there is a posting and flyer on our Facebook page about this.
Befriending Course report
22 people recently attended the course in ‘Befriending with language support’ run by Judy Kirsh, with support from Irene Austin. We are very grateful to the Vineyard Church at St Albans for hosting this. The course gave us an idea of what it might feel like to arrive in a country with very little or no knowledge of the language. It was a thought-provoking day which gave those of us who attended a taste of how to provide language support (which would be in addition to ESOL lessons). We are grateful to Hazel Marie who has offered to support volunteers with ESOL resource materials.
We are considering how to respond to the Government’s proposal to allow an unspecified number of unaccompanied children from Europe to be supported in the UK. This is the direct result of public pressure, demonstrating the strength of support for helping refugee children, following the campaign by Lord Alf Dubs, himself a child refugee who came to Britain on the Kindertransport. Thank you to everyone who contacted their MP or signed a petition about this. Hertfordshire already supports a high number of unaccompanied child refugees, so we are unsure at the moment if the county will be able to take more. Let us know your views on this if you like, via the Facebook page or contact form on the webpage.