Our secretary, Valerie Booth, reports back from a meeting on 31st March to discuss our support for refugees and asylum seekers from Ukraine arriving in Richmond.
In response to the current crisis, we invited existing and new contacts to join us at the Vineyard Community Centre. We had approximately 20 attendees, most having signed up via our Facebook group.
Three Ukrainian arrivals already in this country, with their hosts, were also present. They very warmly expressed their thanks to this country for all we are doing.
Of the remainder, most were either already in the process of hosting refugees, or had applied to do so.
Harry Ginns represented the Vineyard Community Centre, who had kindly offered us the use of the room for the meeting.
Elizabeth Byrne-Hill gave a short welcome, giving a brief history of Refugees Welcome in Richmond, including our support for Syrian refugees in the Borough. She also introduced the Committee members present, and on Zoom.
Mark Robinson explained how we had set up the Afghan support group, and how we are supporting them. Sue Murray set out her role as Safeguarding Officer, particularly for the Afghan befrienders.
We explained how we are working with the Council, and the support we are receiving from Sarah Olney MP for Richmond Park. (We have since had a meeting with Munira Wilson, MP for Twickenham, who is also fully supportive of our work.)
Sarah is keeping a list of potential hosts in her office, and it was suggested that potential hosts should add their names to this list. We underlined that we are not able to match hosts to refugees.
The following points emerged from the various questions and discussions:
- The need for places for Ukrainians to meet other Ukrainians.
- Harry Ginn from the Vineyard Centre said they are keen to be involved.
- The need for Ukrainians to learn English so they can access work.
- Need to set up an information database.
Our role in this situation:
To provide information and support to refugees and asylum seekers from Ukraine and to the local residents hosting them in Richmond.
We have set up a WhatsApp group for those present who have already started the process of hosting, for the purpose of sharing information and advice.
We will set up a database of useful contacts and websites. Hirsh Cashdan has kindly agreed to administer this group, and all enquiries should be addressed to him via this specific contact form. If you have a more general enquiry, you can also contact us here.
We will welcome applications from people volunteering to befriend and support new arrivals from Ukraine and their hosts.
Contact form for Ukraine
Hirsh Cashdan has kindly agreed to administer this subgroup on Ukraine. Please address all enquiries to him.