World Refugee Day
For World Refugee Day 2022, Jade, our Resettlement Service Manager, reflects on the strength and courage of people who have been forced to flee their homes and country due to conflict.
Imagine you’ve fled your home due to war. You move somewhere temporarily – full of worries about your future and your home, and relying on the kindness of strangers. The United Nations puts you on a waiting list to move to a safer, more permanent home.
After a few weeks or months, if you meet all the eligibility requirements, you might be invited to live somewhere like the UK.
It's wonderful to be on solid ground at last, and have somewhere more permanent to call your home. But sadly, moving to an unknown country is not the end of your struggle.
Maybe you don’t speak English, or know nothing about the culture, or perhaps your qualifications aren’t accepted in this country. How would you go about registering for the doctors, or setting up your bills, let alone finding work? It feels like you’re restarting your adult life, except you also have children and have experienced recent trauma.
This is the position that many refugees find themselves in when they first move to the UK. It’s this part of the journey – where a refugee family is settling in – that we step in to provide support, through our Resettlement Service.
We’re currently helping 9 different families (47 individuals) from Afghanistan and Syria to rebuild their lives here in the UK. One of our customers, who is widowed and from Syria, had initially struggled to adjust to British culture and to her life as a single mum to four children.
With some support from our team, we have watched her grow in confidence as she makes new social groups and learns new skills.
She has a passion for cooking and has been volunteering at a local charity, cooking and cleaning for local events. She has learnt how to cook English cuisine and has in turn shared Syrian recipes with the group, which have been in her family for generations.
As a result of her hard work, she has since been offered a place in a local cooking school and is working towards her level 2 food hygiene certificate. She’s hoping to eventually begin a new career as a chef.
She said: “Thank you for all your help. I no longer feel fearful, and I am so happy to have found work as I have never had a job before. I am so proud”
We are extremely proud of her, and it’s amazing to be able to support her and others during their own personal journeys.
Following nominations from the local council, we provide one-to-one support and help refugees find their feet during their first five years in the country. Our support is tailored to their individual needs and aspirations, but it could include accessing language classes and education, getting support with mental health, and finding volunteering or employment.
After our five-year support programme, our families are fully acclimatised and culturally integrated UK citizens. They go on to live successful lives in our country, and we in turn are lucky to benefit from their personalities, knowledge, skills.
What amazes me most about our customers is the resilience and determination they show us daily. With a nudge in the right direction by our team, they really make the most of the opportunities that arise, and many of them have thrown themselves into their local communities.