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We are still working on our structure and constitution so we can't bring those to you to look at yet. We've been struck down by all sorts of events over the past few weeks which has made us reflect more about how we can be sustainable as a project. We'll have to be able to keep going at full pelt once the family have arrived !
What has been a huge step forward is to get our online JustGiving page working. This means that you are now able to donate money to the project and, thanks to our tie-in with the charity Citizens UK and if you are a UK tax payer, we can claim an additional 25% on your donation ! You can access the donation page through the website.
We are working on a fundraising kit to make it easier for you . So far we have given you some ideas about what you might do with friends or neighbours. We have a sponsorship form to use and soon there will be advice on what you can do safely and legally to raise money for the project. All this will be on the website - keep looking.
So please donate if you can, attend our events and/or organise your own with people you know.
To read past newsletters click here
At our zoom meeting last month, the suggestion was made to organise some ‘face-to-face get together time’ around a topic to do with the project. We can meet each other, chat and consider how we each might want to work with the refugee family, or not.
The first of these has been organised for Monday May 9th at Strutts from 6 – 9.00 pm.
There will be training for two hours and then discussion/chat on whatever you want to talk about. We will provide some light refreshments.
“Everybody’s Business” is about safeguarding. The course will be delivered by Ann Cruickshank, an experienced safeguarding trainer and retired Headteacher. Ann is a member of the Derby and Derbyshire Safeguarding Children Partnership Training Pool and Chair of their Education Hub.
You will receive an accredited certificate for attendance.
Ann's experience of working with a diverse range of families, including refugees and asylum seekers, will give us the opportunity to consider, alongside the safeguarding training, what some of the vulnerabilities of the family we hope to support may be.
If you are thinking of volunteering with us, or would just like to come along and find out more, please sign up for this as soon as possible, as spaces will be limited. Apply by sending a message via the first contact form on our Contact Us page and if you want to volunteer there’s a form on there too.
Some 50 or so Belper folks met together last week with the Mayor and Deputy of the Town Council to consider what support could be put in place for locals who are offering to take in Ukrainian refugees. The government scheme is still a mess and visas hard to come by, but some Ukrainians are managing to get through.
As a start, though more will be needed in time, two groups have been set up. One is looking at how to match refugees with hosting households. The other is considering how to support English language learning.
If you want to be on their mailing list, either because you can offer help or because you would like to host but think you will need support along the way, please contact:
Mayor of Belper
Councillor for Belper South, Milford & Makeney
NEWSLETTER MARCH 2022
We are all watching the horrors unfold in Ukraine and feeling pretty helpless about offering help in any way. Probably, like me, you’ve signed petitions and sent money but, as when Syria was on our front pages, it never feels enough. This time we watch as neighbouring countries open their doors to refugees whilst ours continue their policy of hostility and put up more barriers to people fleeing war and destruction. This is Day 18 of the invasion and we have no scheme to offer sanctuary in our country.
Some people have been contacting the project asking what they can do. It looks as if there will be a scheme announced next week in which people can open up their own homes to welcome Ukrainian refugees. Details are beginning to emerge and, if you’d like to be kept informed, keep an eye on the resetuk.org website (who are the Home Office charity set up to support community sponsorship groups like us) as they have promised to be a place of up to date news on this.
Meanwhile, people in Belper have been organising collections of various items to take to Ukraine. Facebook is probably the best way to find out about these.
I reported last time that we had drafted our application form which will go to the Home Office to approve us to receive a family. It has been sent to Reset and CitizensUK for comment, both of whom turned it round very quickly. They gave ideas where we can strengthen it but required no changes. It went at the same time to both our local authorities who have to ‘sign it off’ to agree that they think we can do this. We still await their comments.
So we still can only guess at our timescale for welcoming a family. The house will be available from around June or July. The time needed to process our application by the local authorities and then the Home Office and the UNHCR is unknown. Might it take longer than the 4 or 5 months we have until the house is ready ? We are all thinking how wonderful it would be to have any children arrive before the start of the Autumn term to have some ‘get to know you’ and settling time before school starts for them.
Although there is no community sponsorship scheme yet for Ukrainians, there is a scheme now for Afghans and, as you know, the original Syrian one is now a world-wide one although it seems that Syrians remain the main beneficiary. We believe that, when we submit our application to the Home Office, we will be asked which of the community sponsorship schemes we wish to be part of …. What a decision that will be. Just one family – in the face of all this wretchedness and horror. Just one family that we can bring to safety, give a chance to, give parents the hope that their children might have a different life. Just one family that we can welcome, support and share with.
NEWSLETTER - February 2022
There’s so much to report that I’ll need to be selective and just share some of what has been happening these last few weeks.
We reported to both the police and the local authority that a house had been found. The police had to check out its location and assess whether there are any significant implications for crime and community safety that could lead them to advise that a refugee family should not be housed there. It passed the test and the Home Office have been informed.
The Council will also need to check its suitability for a family to live in and that it meets various standards. They will do this when we are ready and they are advising us they will just need a couple of days’ notice.
People have begun to offer us furniture. We are clarifying exactly what we need before accepting – and hopefully finding some storage facilities somewhere. We’re still looking ! We want to leave some of the furnishings until after the family arrives so that they can choose their own and help make it feel their real home.
Benefits and Employment
The DWP have been very helpful – especially in the form of our local Job Centre. We have been discussing how best to support our family from both our perspectives. It is a requirement that the family meet with the Job Centre within 3 days of arrival and get in their claim for universal credit. Can you just imagine ? English language tuition for work also comes through the Job Centre and, of course, the requirements to look for work. It seems that the family will benefit from the small Belper office where the staff will be able to get to know them, share information about how best to help and even offer a bespoke service. The staff have told us this, wanting to work with us, both ‘sides’ learning from each other to jointly do the best we can. There’s lots still to sort out but it all looks very promising.
Welcome to Belper
Some of us are working on something which will probably turn out to be part illustrated book and part video series to introduce our family to their new environment. Parts of this will be sent to wherever they are before arrival, so they can start visualising and get a better idea of what to expect. This will include pictures of their house, their schools, local shops, the buses, the town and its environs. It will be written in both their own language and English – so the lessons can start pre-arrival !
The full version of their welcome booklet will be left in their house. This will need to cover how everything in their house works, how to deal with any emergencies, how and where to find things needed outside their home, and how to contact us. We will nearly always be their first port of call. Again, this document we will need to get translated.
Which leads us to the question of how we will understand each other. We will need a range of interpreting services. As yet, we don’t even know what first language they will have – this will only be known when our application is accepted by the Home Office and the UNHCR pick a family for us. But we have started looking for local people with language skills who might be able to help. Almost certainly, professional services of various kinds will need to be bought in to supplement local volunteers, sometimes in person and sometimes via phone.
Our first draft is nearly complete and we hope to get this to our sponsor, Citizens UK, and to the local authorities for comment in the next week.
This is a fraction of what’s going on and fundraising hasn’t even been mentioned ! We’ve hit our first target, much sooner than expected, and, for this, we are so very grateful to all of you who continue to support and be so generous in very many ways. Thank you all very much.
NEWSLETTER – January 2022
A very Happy New Year to everyone ! We are all hoping that it will be just later this year when Belper will be welcoming a refugee family to live with us.
The big news since our last newsletter is that we have been offered a house. The family offering it are willing to accept rent at housing allowance level over a 2 year tenancy, which means that it’s affordable for our family. We are very grateful for their generosity. The next step is to ensure that the police, in the form of their Safer Neighbourhood Team, are happy with its location. If so, we can start planning to equip and furnish the house.
Does anyone have, or know how we might get, some free storage space so that we can start collecting furniture for the house ?
We have been working with them for several weeks now. Both the County Council and Amber Valley have to sign off our application to the Home Office to say that they believe we can do this. Also, both authorities have a lot of useful experience to share with us through their involvement in the Syrian, and now the Afghan, Resettlement programmes.
So too do the East Midlands Strategic Migration Partnership and the regional Department of Work and Pensions, with whom we are also working. The support all these authorities offer families who have come to Derbyshire under their programmes is what our group need to replicate for our family.
This is celebrated annually marking the contributions, creativity and resilience of refugees and people seeking sanctuary. This year it takes place between 20-26 June, with the theme of ‘Healing’, and we would like to celebrate it in Belper.
We, together with a few other local groups, are putting on our thinking caps to consider what we might do in Belper. Do you have any ideas ? Would you like to get involved in making this happen ? If so, please get in touch.
Meanwhile, if you’ve looked at the website, you’ll see that there are opportunities to learn more about the circumstances which cause people to flee their homelands and their experiences in doing so. On the home page, there is a link to a briefing on Syria, produced by the International Organisation for Migration. Elsewhere, we encourage you to visit Derby Museum to see one of the Lampedusa crosses made from a wrecked migration boat and the very moving small boats installation. Go and see these whilst we have them in Derby (until 6 March).
Newsletter – December 2021
Many of the ideas we have had for raising money have been hit by the government’s, or our own, imposed restrictions. Most of them would have involved large numbers of us having fun and spending money indoors. The weather now prevents us from moving those events outdoors.
So how are we going to raise money during these cold and covid-riven months?
Have you thought of setting up a Direct Debit?
It would be really useful if loads of us set up direct debits on the JustGiving page. It doesn’t have to be much. Could you afford a tenner a month? Direct debits are so valuable to the project. They keep coming during lean months. It’s regular income and the kind we can depend on. They show the Home Office that Belper people's support is long term and serious. And we will get Gift Aid on them every month - an additional 25% that you don’t have to pay.
So would you consider a Direct Debit ? They are as easy to set up as a one-off donation, but get in touch if you’re having difficulty. Thanks.
More Events Planned!
And there will be small events happening over the coming months - keep watching here and on the “Coming Soon” page for information about them.
You can of course do your own fundraising for the project amongst your own friends and family - you just need some whacky ideas and festive goodwill! There's advice and sponsorship forms on the fundraising page here.
It’s high time we gave you some news about what’s been going on in the project. We are planning a zoom meeting with everyone later this month and hopefully a physical get together in October. So this is a kind of interim report which can maybe provoke some questions for the zoom which we can discuss together.
Seven groups have been meeting, setting programmes of work and reporting back to each other. Each of those groups has a co-ordinator and those 7 people have been meeting weekly to share information and have some heavy discussions about how to do things. Despite absences and everyone having a lot on, we’ve made considerable progress.
We have selected the Sponsor Refugees arm of Citizens UK to be our charity and we are working closely with them. They have been fantastic in answering our many queries very swiftly. They and RESET have found others around the country for us to talk to directly, to ask, how did you go about this or that. There is a wonderful community of sponsors out there who just lift your heart. And they share willingly.
Some of us have attended training courses organised by these organisations. The benefit of doing these on zoom has been the possibility of meeting so many from other groups across the country, chatting with them and making contacts.
Our name is now ‘Belper Refugee Welcome’ and we now have a website displaying our new logo, providing updates about the project and ways to contribute help, things and money. Contact with the project is through the email address on the website.
Fundraising activities which involve the Belper community are being planned and will start next month. Some individuals have already donated or are setting up their own fundraising events. We like and encourage all of this ! We’re not very visible yet to the community but we will be soon as publicity materials and talks and information become available.
A lot of the work in small groups has been researching what’s available out there. We have been mapping ESOL provision since the adults in our family will have to receive 8 hours English tuition a week. They and any children will need so much language support at first to access all the services they need and attend school. Interpreters will be needed for important meetings the family attend (and with us to start with !). How do we put all this in place ?
Likewise, we have investigated how much money the family is likely to receive to live on and started identifying what they will need but probably can’t afford. We have talked to the local bank about how they could set up a bank account without the usual identity documents. And we have started looking at the local employment market and the support available.
Similarly with the house we have to find. It looks likely that we will need to find a private landlord who is willing to let for 2 years at housing allowance rates, when they could get much more for it. We are looking, asking questions, exploring the market.
We have now made initial contact with Derbyshire County Council and
Amber Valley Borough Council. Both organisations can be helpful or a
hindrance to us. They both have to sign off our application to the
Home Office and say they believe we can do this, and do it properly.
So far, so good…
We have nearly completed our Safeguarding Policy - a requirement for the application and for the way we work with the family to ensure we act appropriately at all times and keep them from harm. We have realised that, when the family arrives, we will need to severely limit and control access to them. We will train a very small number of people to work with them and the rest of us will stay away. We can all keep doing things in the background to ensure that what they need is provided, but our small group of DBS checked and trained volunteers will have the only direct contact. This will ensure their protection and help not be overwhelmed from the start. They will be able to start making real and new relationships with a few key people. The rest of us can join in later once they feel more secure and confident.
During the next couple of weeks we will be reorganising our small groups into a structure which is more permanent. We have drafted a constitution to reflect this and how all of us can work together, where we all fit in and can make a contribution in a way that suits what we want to do. I hope I’ll be able to send this out to all of you to have a look at before our zoom so that you can react to it.
I expect you are wondering whether we might have an Afghan family now rather than the possibly Syrian one. The answer is that’s it’s too early to say, but we have signed a letter sent from Citizens UK to the government asking that the Community Sponsorship scheme be extended to Afghan families with a separate (additional) target.