In late September 2017 we as a church welcomed our first Syrian family to the UK. We were able to provide them with a home and to help them to start their new life in London. Our family is part of the 8,000 refugees who have come so far to the UK through the Government’s resettlement scheme, as published by The Guardian. Much work has been done so far, and we pray that we can reach more families and individuals as the resettlement scheme continues.
In November, UNHCR released a study on resettlement efforts of Syrian refugees in the UK, which highlighted a number of areas for improvement, including English language provision, further support for housing and gaining employment. We as a church can be encouraged that these three areas mentioned above are in progress regarding our family.
The latest update is that they are settled in their home, and love entertaining guests. The family hosted a group from our church on Christmas Eve with delicious Syrian food. Furthermore, the younger boys in the family received places in local schools and their comprehension of the language is improving day by day.
As they are aware of the high cost of living in this city, the adults have all worked on putting their CVs together. One of the older sons is volunteering at a local community cafe, and is becoming quite an expert on lattes and cappuccinos! He will be put forward for an interview with a well-known coffee-shop brand this month. The other son has gone through an intensive training programme, and is now lined up for an interview with a multinational group that designs and sells furniture and home accessories through their refugee programme.
The mum has demonstrated strong skills and determination, and will volunteer with two British charities commencing in January. As the dad’s ability and confidence in English grows, he hopes to find employment within the catering industry. The family is attending regular ESOL classes provided by various organisations as well as the local council.
If you feel encouraged after reading about the amazing progress of our Syrian family, and would like to get involved with one of our refugee initiatives, we are also making a difference through these initiatives:
- Friday Night Football Club which meets up fortnightly;
- Shine/STRENGTH courses with the aim to empower adults and teenagers in their new life;
- Welcome packs and donations providing unaccompanied minors who have just arrived to the UK with essential items like shoes, clothes and toiletries;
- Monthly creative and life skill workshops for unaccompanied minors.
Pastor Gary Clarke shared a thought in 2017: “Imagine if we all cared, all contributed and all were soul-winners”. Yes, imagine if we all played our part. It’s not about doing everything, but deciding to do something. We all can play our part in making a difference.