Every action makes a difference, and when we come together, we are powerful!#RefugeeWeek2022
Refugee Week is almost upon us, beginning next week – 20 – 27th June. It is a UK-wide festival celebrating the contributions, creativity and resilience of refugees and people seeking sanctuary. The aim is for it to be a celebration of community, care, and the human ability to start again.
This year’s theme is ‘Healing’, and no-one understands this better than those who have lost their homes and had to try to rebuild lives from scratch. Recovering from some of the most painful situations and experiences imaginable, and managing to continue to live, with the ability to hold onto hope, when all seems lost, and even to learn to trust again. We have much to learn and respect!
Here at Community Lives Matter, we support those going through the asylum system as well as refugees (those who have already been granted permission to stay in the UK). We aim to stand alongside them, offering support and welcome in many forms.
In real terms, we want to provide an environment beyond their accommodation, where they can feel welcomed, meet others like themselves, as well as local people ready to give time and energy to help them find their feet. To this end, we provide a weekly drop-in, 2-5pm every Friday afternoon, where there is conversation, coffee and biscuits, pool and table tennis, music – a space to call their own for that time, where they can mix with others in the same situation as themselves, as well as with local volunteers.
We also provide practical support in a number of areas, from getting registered with GPs, organising medical appointments and other health needs, to the provision of clothing, toiletries or other basic needs, even bicycles to assist with local transport, and refurbished electronics, e.g. smartphones, a lifeline for contact with their home countries, and laptops, useful for those that
are able to start college. When resources are scarce, this can be invaluable.
More formal support is also available, e.g. help filling in official forms, advice and signposting to local services, support with asylum applications, including interviews, liaison with their MP, communication with the Home Office and attending appeal hearings where appropriate.
Language can often present barriers, so help with English, from informal conversation to more formal classes is also available. We provide support with reading or pronunciation and enrolment in English courses at local colleges.
For those with permission to work, we help them to seek suitable employment.
Finally, we hope to provide some much needed fun! Alongside the recreational games available weekly at our drop in, we organise day trips out to local places of interest, e.g. Blackpool lights and West Kirkby being recent choices.
Why not join us this week and make it a special one for asylum seekers and refugees? Take a look at Refugee Week’s Simple Acts page and choose an action for each day. Who knows, you might find you want to continue for the rest of the year too!
And if you’d like to volunteer with any of our activities supporting asylum seekers and refugees, please do get in touch.