HASTINGS BUDDY SCHEME – The Hastings Refugee & Asylum Seeker Project.

In recent months we have been setting up a scheme in which people from Hastings and St Leonards are invited to offer help of various kinds to the Syrian families entering our community through the Syrian Resettlement Project. Rossana Leal, the founder and leader of this scheme, has a vision for how this can work to establish a real culture of welcome and hospitality towards our new fellow-citizens from her own experience many years ago. For she was another refugee child who had to leave her home and find sanctuary in a new place and a new culture thousands of miles away. Here is her Buddy Story.


The Buddy Project here in Hastings is taking shape and growing every day. Volunteers have begun carrying out ad hoc buddying activities with the newly arriving Syrian families. We are also about to host our second Social Gathering bringing buddies and refugees together. Our Social Gatherings, held at people’s houses, are a great opportunity for buddies to meet the newly arriving Syrian families.

Buddies have started accompanying people to GP appointments, providing ESOL support, and support with the driving theory test; and many invitations are coming in now to invite refugee families to dinner. We now have 18 people fully registered and ready to buddy, with another 10 who have registered their interest and now going through the process of becoming a buddy.

The Buddy Scheme works closely with the Syrian Resettlement Project, whose fulltime paid case officer deals with all education, health, housing or financial-related matters.

The Buddy Role: Buddies are expected to carry out a series of ad hoc activities, that is, all kinds of everyday activities that any family starting a new life in a new country might need help with.

Would you like to help refugee families settle into life in Hastings?

We are looking for people who can spare 1- 5 hours a week (or more if you like!!!).

The buddy will signpost/accompany/invite/feedback as required to the mentoring coordinators.

  • As a buddy, you might do any of the following activities:
  • Accompany people– to the dentist, doctor etc.
  • Drive people to appointments
  • Help with filling in forms
  • Teach English
  • Repair things
  • Show how to use public transport
  • Visit the family
  • Signpost people to local services
  • Invite people go on social activities such as exhibitions, walks…

To register as a Buddy, please follow this: http://www.escafa.co.uk/volunteer/

Arabic speaking is not essential. All Buddies will take part in an induction and provide feedback to the Buddy Coordinator, Rossana Leal.

You will be play a crucial role in helping refugee families begin a new life here in Hastings!