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In times of crises, British people have always answered the call and worked with other friendly nations to speak out, send aid and provide refuge.

In early September 2015, Aylan Kurdi, a young Syrian boy fleeing his wartorn country, washed up on a beach and moved the world to action. In the sadness and anger a new movement was built – Refugees Welcome.

Refugees Welcome has worked over the past two years to see thousands of Syrian refugees resettled, the Dubs amendment won, and 3,000 more children to brought to safety from the region.

Along with local groups and national organisations, we’re ready to respond to this crises; welcoming refugees from abroad and encouraging our political leaders to do more.

We’re ready to welcome people fleeing from violence and persecution.

We’re ready to find homes, help children to settle and bring Civil Society together.

We’re ready to answer the call once again.

Refugees Welcome Schools: how to get involved

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Citizens UK developed the Refugee Welcome School concept with one of its member schools, Saint Gabriel’s College, a Church of England secondary school in South London in 2016.

A further 35 schools around the UK soon expressed an interest in replicating the model. Now Citizens UK and NASUWT, the Teachers’ Union, have joined forces to promote Refugee Welcome Schools. We hope to grow a movement of pupils, teachers, school leaders, trade unionists and community organisers across the country working together to make our schools and communities places of welcome.

Refugees welcome schools commit to three things:

  • A Refugee Welcome Plan: to make sure those seeking sanctuary in our school and wider community experience a warm and generous welcome;
  • A Refugee Awareness Plan: to educate all of our pupils, staff and community on the issue of refugees and the importance of providing a welcome
  • A Refugee Action Plan: to participate in community campaigns that improve the lives of refugees in the UK.

To find out more or to get your school involved go to: www.citizensuk.org/refwel_schools

Stafford Welcomes Refugees

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Stafford Welcomes Refugees (SWR) is a diverse and multicultural group over 100 local concerned and enthusiastic people, that was set up by Netta Cartwright in September 2015 in response to Central and Local Governments not providing a good enough response to the scale of the refugee crisis. Read More

Farringdon Syrian Refugee Group

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In January 2015 Reggie Norton, a lifelong campaigner for peace and justice now in his 80s, called together representatives from the five churches in Faringdon to see what we could do in the face of the refugee crisis. We were ashamed of our government’s slow and inadequate response and lack of compassion. Like many others we were frustrated that our views were not being represented and felt we had to take some grass roots action for our voices to be heard and for something to be done. Reggie had heard about Citizens UK and we decided to follow their guidelines on how to campaign to have Syrian refugees resettled in our area. Read More

If you asked a group of 14 year-olds what they cared about most, what answer would you expect? – Mother Ellen, Lameth

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Our school is a member of community organising movement Citizens UK, which helps our students to campaign and act on the issues that matter to them.

Last autumn a group of Year 10 students decided that of all the possible issues (housing, jobs, money, or street safety), the refugee crisis was the most important to them. Even as their school chaplain, their compassion caught me unawares. Read More

Letter from recently relocated Syrian refugee

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We left Kurdistan by midnight heading to Erbil’s airport where we stayed until 4.30 am. We entered the plane for the first time. Our destination was Amman which we arrived at by6.30 am the following day. We were received by delegates from the UN who took us to the airport hotel where we stayed until 23:00. They took us back to the airport and we left to the German Frankfort which we arrived at by 5:00 am. UN delegates were in reception too and asked us to rest until 14:30. We lunched at Frankfort airport and we left to the British Bristol where we arrived at by 4:00 pm.

We were received by delegates from the British community which was form of a lady called Gill, the interpreter ‘Hosam’ from Hamah (city in Syria), the driver and two other people. They gave us a generous and beautiful reception that I have never witnessed in my life. They had toys for my children and held a banner with my first and second name and were calling ‘Hussain’s family, where are you?’. We were totally pleased with this unique reception. Read More

Like Many Others – Ruth Alexander, Perthshire

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Like many others, I was driven to get involved with the #refugeeswelcome movement by the pictures of Alan Kurdi in the media last September.  With the support of other people in the community who were similarly moved to take action, I set up Pitlochry Refugee Support, a small group of volunteers in Highland Perthshire. 

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A Hectic Few Months – David Wolfson, Milton Keynes

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It’s been a hectic few weeks and months for Refugees Welcome Milton Keynes!

The inspirational Carmel Schmid, who set up the local campaign as part of the Citizens:MK campaign last November has stood down from being chair due to time pressures, handing over to myself. Gulp! That means 200 volunteers to be thought about, two Syrian refugee families already in the city (12 people), British Red Cross and the Milton Keynes Council driving forward our welcome. And our Core Group is burning with enthusiasm.
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Why I had to help welcome refugees – Ruth Connelly, Tonbridge

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Ruth and Tarek in Damascus; 2009

Ruth and Tarek in Damascus; 2009

I went on holiday to Syria in 2009, two years before war broke out. I was visiting my Syrian father-in-law with my husband Tarek and one-year-old daughter Zoe. Tarek was learning Arabic but I only knew two words: ‘Marhaba’ and ‘shukran’. Hello and thank you. My father-in-law told me not to worry, as these would be all I needed when visiting family. I could just say ‘hello’ when we arrived, eat all the food, then say ‘thank you’ at the end.

We spent our first few days in Syria exploring Damascus. I couldn’t believe how many people smiled at us on the street and stopped to wish us well, stroke Zoe’s cheek or offer her sweets. And when visiting family, ‘Ahlan wa sahlan’ (welcome) became a familiar greeting as doors were thrown open. Zoe was passed around like a parcel and covered in kisses. We were ushered towards large tables groaning under the weight of plates piled high with homecooked food.

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