We are Fundraising! We would like to take on a part-time paid Coordinator to ensure the continued smooth running of the Project, a role which is currently performed by a small army of volunteers! The money will also be used to help pay for the regular activities and workshops we run to help the newly arrived families integrate into their local community. If you would like to donate you can do so via our
Go Fund Me Fundraiser.

 Since Autumn 2017, we have been setting up a project in which people from Hastings, St Leonards and Bexhill 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 is taking shape and growing every day. Volunteers have been carrying out ad hoc buddying activities with the newly arriving Syrian families, and in doing so, forming close and friendly relationships.

On 16th June 2018, we screened the Premier of our short film about the Hastings Buddy Project and what we have been doing so far. You can watch this video by clicking below.

The refugees usually arrive direct from refugee camps and arrive here with nothing. The Buddies, along with volunteers from across the County coordinated by ESCAFA, help to prepare a flat for them and provide a warm welcome that will help them start a new life in a peaceful country safe from fear, bombs and loss.

The Buddy Scheme works closely with the government’s Syrian Resettlement Project, whose fulltime paid case officer deals with all education, health, housing, financial or other official matters. The adult refugees normally attend English classes five mornings a week and the children go to local schools.

Buddies are there for all the everyday activities that any family starting a new life in a new country might need help with. We have been doing all sort of stuff!

  • Visiting the families
  • Getting to know their area, walks, visits to cafes, introduction to locals
  • Teaching English, or just practising their English
  • Accompanying people to the dentist, doctor etc.
  • Driving people to appointments
  • Helping with filling in forms
  • Going to the gym or a mother and toddler club with them
  • Repairing things
  • Bicycle maintenance
  • Showing them how and where to use public transport
  • Signposting people to local services
  • Pumpkin carving, quilt club, cookery groups, puppet making, art group
  • Inviting people go on social activities such as exhibitions and walks.
  • Inviting them for tea or dinner

We now have 32 people fully registered and buddying, with another 25 who have registered their interest and now going through the process of becoming a buddy.

We have hosted a number of social gatherings bringing buddies and refugees together. These gatherings are usually held at people’s houses, with one also at the Kino Teatr in St Leonard’s and one at Ashburnham Place. They are a great opportunity for buddies to meet the newly arriving Syrian families.

Would you like to help refugee families settle into life in Hastings or Bexhill? We aim to allocate at least two buddies to each family, and they are supported all the way by mentoring coordinators. Every buddy has to provide a Character Reference and be DBS checked, and they then start by shadowing another buddy.

We are looking for people who can spare from one to five hours a week (or more if you like!).

To register as a Buddy, please follow click here to fill in the application form.

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

You will be playing a crucial role in helping refugee families begin a new life here in Hastings, St Leonards and Bexhill!

If you would like to donate to the Project you can do so via our GoFundMe Fundraiser!