Our Befriending Team Leader and Safeguarding Officer, Elizabeth Byrne-Hill, recalls Refugees Welcome in Richmond’s Spring Party on 5th March 2022.
Covid restrictions made a New Year’s Party seem unwise and a postponed date in March sounded an excellent idea. But as we approached the Youth Centre on a rather gloomy Saturday afternoon, a wintry wind was blowing through Ham.
What a marvellous contrast to open the doors to a warm welcome, happy faces, and a hall carefully arranged to give space for children’s games and teenage table tennis as well as festive arrangement of delicious food even before the arrival of five of our Syrian families laden with more goodies and bunches of flowers.
It was a great delight to be able to welcome three new families from Afghanistan. In spite of accommodation problems which are so disappointing after their all too recent trauma and escape they showed their determination to make the best of their new home in Richmond.
We can and will make their stay here a success story – all the easier because several of the parents speak excellent English. One small person in a pretty dress made the gallant youths woo her by stealing their ping-pong ball and refusing to give it up.
About 15 of our regular volunteers together with Mark’s team of 8 volunteers for the new arrivals were joined by our old friend and colleague Ruth Durant with yet another team offering English classes. Others arrived offering craft classes and fundraising ideas. It was a joyful occasion and a long-anticipated reunion for those who had not felt able to gather indoors since March two years ago.
Great thanks to the energetic team from The Green School, led by Annalise who generously planned and provisioned the event and to Firas and his team from the Youth Club who provided both the venue, the safeguarding and plenty of warm and smiling faces.