Stafford Welcomes Refugees (SWR) is a constituted voluntary group of local people. It was set up in 2015 in response to the Syrian refugee crisis to press the UK to take its fair share of refugees fleeing war and persecution. The group also wish to provide a welcome and support for any refugees coming to Stafford. From these initial aims SWR has developed, and now has several Action Groups which work on specific areas.
In summary, the work of SWR involves:
Supporting refugees in Stafford. SWR became a partner with Staffordshire County Council and its commissioned services from Refugee Action and Spring Housing for the Government’s Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (VPRS). Our support involved organising social events for the Syrian refugees to meet together, weekly language support, friendship via our Befrienders scheme, sourcing donated goods and furniture and general support with their integration into life in Stafford. Since then other refugees have become aware of our support and they come along to our regular social events. These events range from a regular informal get together fpr a chat over coffee to bigger occasional events such as a coach trip to London to see the sights, a day at the seaside in Llandudno, coach led sports sessions at the leisure centre, a barbecue on Cannock Chase, and an annual festive party with gifts from Santa. Plus in October 2019, the families were gifted a 3 day holiday altogether to an outdoor activity centre called Whitemoor Lakes. We envisage ongoing support to be based around the Befrienders scheme from here on.
Collecting humanitarian aid for refugees overseas. We have a permanent collection bin in the foyer of Rising Brook Community Church centre for donations of clothes/toiletries/sanitary products. These are then sorted and taken to Warrington for shipping to refugees on the Greek Islands, and to Syria.
Raising awareness about the situation for refugees through our Education group. Offering accurate and truthful information with stands at local events such as “Stafford in the World” day and Jo Cox’s “Great Get Together”, but also with workshops about displaced people and assemblies into the local schools. We aim to promote Stafford as an official “Town of Sanctuary” under the banner of “City of Sanctuary” by encouraging local churches, libraries, leisure centre, theatre, schools to sign up as official places of sanctuary and welcome to refugees coming to Stafford.
Campaigning. SWR Campaigns group is pressing SCC and SBC to receive more refugees in the UK than the promised 20,000 over 5 years including the OurTurn campaign of Safe Passage. We work with our local MP to prompt the Government to quicken up their procedures and to ask for more unaccompanied children to be resettled in the UK.
All of this work is done by our team of volunteers, but more help is needed especially with ongoing areas like fundraising and publicity. Many of the local schools have requested workshops/assemblies but the Education team need more volunteers to deliver these sessions. If you want to find out more about how you could help in any of these areas, please fill in the form on the volunteer for us page.