December 2020 newsletter

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SWR Befrienders action group

SWR Befrienders continue to provide confidential friendship to the Syrian refugee families in Stafford through regular contact by texting and video calls. They support families with lots of ways; including help with schoolwork, reading practice, accessing free school meal vouchers, informal English practice, and help with accessing services such as SARH, booking train tickets online etc. A risk assessment was completed for face to face visiting of families over the summer; and from this a few Befrienders were able to meet with families’ in gardens or outdoors on socially distanced outings.

More recently we filmed one family cooking traditional Syrian pies for the video to go onto the Family Hub of Staffordshire Connects. Family Hub Cooking – Cooking for a family on a budget | Staffordshire Connects

In December we had our annual festive party via zoom. All of the families had gifts provided by a local facebook group #shoeboxes4refugees. Children’s gifts were bagged up and then delivered by the Befrienders. Santa made a zoom appearance from his workshop at the North Pole to give seasons greetings and the usual lively party games were not curtailed either, with a zoom scavenger hunt and picture quiz.

SWR received a donation from the estate of the late Camilla Kurti who died on 28th May 2018. From this gift, the SWR committee decided to offer the families £200 each towards technology to help the children with school work and for Zoom calls during the Covid-19 crisis. So far 6 of the families have used the money to buy laptops or tablets.

Funds will also come to SWR from half the profits of the Annual Fish from Oblivion Christmas concert held on December 13th, and also from the Stafford branch of Amnesty International.

SWR Education action group

SWR Education team has been unable to resume their school workshop on Human Displacement but are hoping to restart the programme in Spring 2021.

SWR Campaigns action group

The SWR Campaigns team have continued their work alongside Safe Passage throughout the pandemic with the main focus on lobbying for family reunification to be part of the new Immigration bill, which is going through parliament at the moment. The SWR facebook page continues to profile important campaigns and refugee stories.

Stafford: Town of Sanctuary

Work continues to broaden Stafford as a Town of Sanctuary and SWR have agreed our first award – to St Austin’s Church as a Church of Sanctuary. Three others, Rising Brook Baptist, St Mary’s and the Quakers are all working to achieve the award. We have commissioned a ceramic relief plaque to be given to those achieving the award. Local pottery sculptor, Gillie Nichols has created the original and casts will be taken from it. Other groups such as schools and businesses are being encouraged to apply for awards too.

Overseas support action group

Donations of clothes for refugees abroad sadly stopped in March due to the COVID crisis as countries across Europe went into lockdown on and off and lorries could not get through. We hope to restart this work in 2021.

It has been a difficult year for SWR to pursue all of its original plans but we are hopeful of driving them forward in 2021. Anyone interested in getting involved would be very welcome. Please register your interest via the form on this website.