The Campaigns Action Group meets regularly and campaigns for more refugees to be taken into the UK especially unaccompanied children. It also works with our MP, Safe Passage, Citizens UK and other national charities and volunteer groups on refugee issues and joint projects. The group were heavily involved in opposing the new Borders Bill and lobbied for amendments. Campaigns around this are ongoing, and any volunteer support would be much appreciated to add to our voice.
Befrienders were trained by SWR to support local Syrian refugee families in a friendship role with activities such as English conversation practice, homework assistance for children and encouragement to attend local events/activities to help their integration into Stafford life. Befrienders have accompanied their families to places like the Wolseley centre, Doxey marshes, Red Lion ice cream farm, and to events such as the Stafford Gatehouse pantomime and sports sessions at Stafford Leisure centre. Families receive formal support from Staffordshire County Council for 5 years so this volunteer role aims to also assist use of these local commissioned services for any help around tenancy and schooling in those first 5 years.
Alongside the befrienders there is a wider group of volunteers who offer friendship to all the refugees in Stafford, and organise occasional bigger social events for families to attend.
In the past this group provided a weekly English language practice session in Stafford for the Syrian adults but formal accredited ESOL is now funded for them at the Faraday Road Children’s Centre by Staffordshire County Council. A few of our ESOL trained volunteers have continued to provide English practice via zoom for individuals who need or want more practice.
After the conflict in Ukraine started, we began to gather a bank of additional ESOL volunteers and Ukrainian speakers and we are now partnering with Wolverhampton University in Stafford to provide extra informal ESOL at their culture café sessions at Staffordshire Place.
In addition Stafford Equality Lifelong Learning group also kindly offered to take Ukrainian students into their weekly informal ESOL session at the Littleworth centre in Stafford.
The number of Ukrainians arriving in Stafford and the surrounding towns continues to rise, so if you are an ESOL teacher and would like to volunteer, your help would be much appreciated. Likewise if you need help practising English in an informal setting then please contact us for more details.
Education and Training
This group organise workshops and performances in schools and elsewhere to raise awareness around displaced people. 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 assist in delivering workshops, please fill in the form on the volunteer for us page.
In addition the group provide training to SWR volunteers such as befriender training, and promote ongoing training such as Safeguarding and Mental Health first aider training arranged by our SCC partner. We are members of Support Staffordshire and SCVYS who also provide support and regular training opportunities to our volunteers.
Stafford: Town of Sanctuary
This group is linked with the national organisation City of Sanctuary UK whose aim is to build a movement of welcome across the UK. From community groups to councils, schools to libraries, this action group encourages local Stafford organisations to join the vibrant City of Sanctuary network and provide support, dignity and welcome to refugees and people seeking sanctuary. In Stafford St Austin’s Catholic church became an official Church of Sanctuary in 2021 and was presented with an award by our MP Theo Clarke. Several other churches, the Gatehouse theatre and some local schools are also looking into the process. If you are part of an organisation and would like to hear more about achieving this recognised status, please get in contact with us.