In the first of a series of articles by Refugee Welcome Wanstead – a community group planning to welcome a Syrian refugee family to Wanstead – Eleanor Taylor explains how local residents can help
I’m sure you will recall the dreadful scenes in the news in recent years of buildings flattened, people killed or injured and families torn apart as a result of the war in Syria. For eight years, the war has raged, creating the world’s largest refugee crisis, and forcing people into camps in Lebanon and Jordan.
Life in these refugee camps is precarious, and most families dream of being able to settle down somewhere to start afresh and rebuild their lives.
It’s so easy to feel overwhelmed when we see these stories, to feel there’s nothing we can do to help. The events are happening so far away, and we don’t make the decisions about how many families are rescued from these terrible conditions.
But there is something we can do. In addition to the standard number of refugee families taken in by the UK government and resettled in this country, the Home Office operates a programme called the Community Sponsorship Scheme. Communities can come together and offer the housing, support and friendship needed to welcome a refugee family into life in the UK. The scheme has already worked successfully across the country, and is currently in action in Dagenham, where a group similar to ours welcomed a family last year.
That’s where we come in. Refugee Welcome Wanstead, established by volunteers from five local parishes in and around Wanstead, is a group set up to apply to welcome a Syrian refugee family into our community through the Community Sponsorship Scheme. Together, we will provide accommodation, advice and support to a family, as well as welcoming them into our wonderful Wanstead community.
If we are to succeed, we need your help. To take part in the scheme, the Home Office requires us to raise money, which is why we have set up a crowdfunding campaign. In time, we will also need volunteers, as well as donations of items of furniture, so please keep an eye on our Twitter page to see how you can help.
With your help, we can make all the difference in the world to one family. We can’t solve all the conflicts of the world, but we believe that if we can help one family, we should.
It takes a community to welcome a family, and we know Wanstead can rise to the challenge. Please help us succeed together.