Powered by Citizens UK

Stories

Over the coming months we’ll be selecting and sharing the stories of some of our local activists and area coordinators on this page. If you would like to share your story for publication, please sign up HERE

Stafford Welcomes Refugees

By | Stories | No Comments

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

By | Stories | No Comments

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

By | Stories | No Comments

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

By | Stories | No Comments

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

By | Stories | No Comments

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. 

Read More

A Hectic Few Months – David Wolfson, Milton Keynes

By | Stories | No Comments

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.
Read More

Why I had to help welcome refugees – Ruth Connelly, Tonbridge

By | Stories | No Comments
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.

Read More

Clearing Mohammed’s Garden… Together – Bernadette Howley

By | Stories | No Comments

You might remember the day. It was that Sunday in early May when we thought summer had arrived, the Sunday when the sun shone sizzling hot and endless.

Yes, that was the day that we, the Bath Refugee Welcome Team, agreed to work with Mohammed  (not his real name), one of the recently arrived Syrian refugees in Bath, to clear his garden so he could  plant his vegetables before Ramadan.

We tried not to grumble but the truth was, given the heat, we all
concluded that it would have been a more ‘enjoyable’ job had it been raining.
To keep our spirits up our translator ordered in ten tons of falafels in
wraps (and chips) for everyone who had turned up to help with the garden. Then
she headed off to the park with the children. There were axes and saws involved
in our labours. We figured that the park would be a safer place for the children to
spend the afternoon.

Read More