Refugee Week is an annual event that celebrates the resilience of refugees and asylumseekers. At times when the media is full of stories about the plight of refugees, especially those who try and reach Europe by boat, there are stories of resilience, courage and compassion, and organisations who we should also celebrate.
One such organisation that our CEO and co-Founder Jo Farquharson does a lot of work for, as Chair of Trustees, is West London Welcome, a community-led initiative that works with refugees, asylum seekers, migrants and other locals. The group not only provides a supportive space for people to build their confidence and help reduce isolation but also provides vital services such as English classes, clothing, childcare, a food bank, social and creative activities. Without these services, many refugees and asylum seekers might find it hard to connect with essential public services that they need but also the community support that they require to get on in society.
Jo Farquharson said, “it is a privilege to chair the Board of West London Welcome. It is a charity full of exceptional people, from the dedicated team of executive staff and volunteers to our members who have travelled so far to come to our society. The work the charity does to reduce vulnerability and create warm and supportive relationships is invaluable.”
Another organisation that supports refugees into employment is Breaking Barriers, a charity that helps to rebuild people’s lives by helping them get employment. Breaking Barriers work with a range of partners to establish training, employment and educational opportunities so that refugees can live independently and create fulfilling lives in the UK. They have just released a film called My (Refugee) Life that looks beyond the numbers and behind closed doors to follow five refugees as they navigate temporary accommodation, employment, love, family and education in the UK. You can watch the film here.
Refugees at Home is a UK charity that connects refugees and asylum seekers with a place to stay. Since 2017, they have placed 4702 guests with a total of 383,000 placement nights. Many have generously opened their homes to people in need, giving them a chance to get settled in UK society. Our communications consultant Miki Lentin opened the doors to his house to a refugee and asylum seeker and together with his family gave these people the space and time they needed to get settled, but more importantly a warm bed, clean house and food so that they could feel part of a family.
All these examples show that we should also celebrate the great work that many people are doing to support refugees and asylum seekers. Against draconian and often cruel government policies, there is a huge wealth of support out there for people who need support and let’s hope it continues.