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Hastings & Rother Refugee Buddy Project: February 2019

February 2019 Update

Rossana Leal – Founder

The Hastings & Rother Refugee Buddy Project is now buddying 17 families in Hastings & St Leonards, Bexhill and Rother, continuing our crucial support for interaction between the refugee families from Syria and members of the local community. We are providing a wide variety of additional opportunities for the families to mix with others, thus helping to reduce isolation and increase confidence in their ability to settle and start a new life in the UK. Most importantly, we are making them feel welcome.

Our network is thus growing very quickly with both the families and our buddies needing increasing levels of support and coordination. Hence the launch of our fundraising campaign at the screening of the award-winning documentary about solidarity, Nae Pasaran , on February 15th at the Kino in St Leonards.  See short version of this important film here.

Until 24th March 2019, you can watch the entire film here. (UK only)

Through this new fundraising initiative, we hope to fund the post of Buddy Coordinator, and also the events and activities in our new space which we take over from April for our new Cultural Centre/Arts Space.

In recent months, activities and events have included:

  • ‘Feeling Stitchy’ (formerly known as the Quilt club) -ongoing on fortnightly basis
  • General orientation, walks, meetings in cafes, introduction to local people and places of interest
  • The gym, bicycle maintenance, children’s music lessons
  • Coordinated donations of clothes, TVs, buggies, car booster seats
  • Apple Picking, Halloween pumpkin carving
  • Christmas gathering at Ashburnham Place
  • February gathering in partnership with St Leonards Civic Change project
  • Christmas Theatre Trip to explore the Arch’s House of Circus
  • Support with lessons, visits to FE institutions, Open Wood at Mallydams, Open Afternoon at the Darvell
  • Community, Gardening on allotments
  • Art workshops at the Jerwood successfully started by Kathy Bor and now continuing with Nicole Zarroura who is carrying out an interactive photographic arts practice with the families.

Extending our Buddy project

We are exploring ways of opening up our support for non-SRP people seeking refuge, with the necessary degree of caution to address the particular complexities of the asylum-seeking process.  

The Bexhill Refugee Buddy Project is now up and running, with two amazing Bexhill buddy coordinators who will share this role and work together to coordinate support for the families in Bexhill. There are currently three families who have arrived in Bexhill. On our Open Day in Bexhill on Saturday 26th January, we recruited 25 more buddies in the Bexhill area.

Informal English Conversation Support
In the past months, we have begun sessions on how to help with informal English language support in conversation, with the most recent on 24th January 2019. These sessions, provided by Kathy Briscoe, will continue throughout 2019, and also will be expanded to Bexhill.

Forthcoming Dates:

8th March: A Celebration in London!  See our Events page nearer the date for more information on this event.

Sunday 10th March: for International Women’s Day, Hands of Friendship Quilt joining in the celebrations. At the Azur Pavilion, 2-4pm. All welcome. Jane Grimshaw and Rossana Leal leading.

Tuesday 19th March: Visit to the Brighton Community Kitchen, part of One World Week with Brighton University. Antonia Berelson leading.

Saturday 23rd March: Buddy Training sessions and Social Gathering After the Buddy Training, we will celebrate together the Kurdish New Year Festival Newroz. Dancing, Music, Food!

Saturday 27th April: The People’s Boutique.  Jane leading. Venue tbc.

Thursday 23rd May: Social Gathering (after the six weekly Induction of any new Buddies) Venue TBC

February – April: Feeling Stitchy (formerly the Quilt Club) Ongoing on fortnightly basis.  Jane leading.

Please get in touch here if you would like to volunteer too!