Welcoming a new refugee family through community sponsorship
Siôn Meredith, Aberaid
Photo - Siôn and members of the team of volunteers at the airport to welcome a family from Syria
Aberaid is a group of concerned people in Aberystwyth who formed in response to the refugee crisis and who came together to sponsor a refugee family to come and live in our community.
Community Sponsorship has been a lengthy process, longer and more detailed than we anticipated but we have appreciated the level of detail in our planning now that the family has arrived. They have now been living in Aberystwyth for almost a month and the lengthy process has been worth it. It is great that we have been able to offer refuge to a vulnerable family from the war in Syria, and the opportunities available here: school for the children having been home-schooled in Jordan for five years; medical care; and security and peace of mind in a house that the family are making home.
The family are settling well and have made good friendships with other Syrian families, the children are happy to be in school and the parents have started language lessons and are keen to gain employment locally. Nevertheless, the family are still making the transition to a new area, new language and new culture. We have a team of six support volunteers and we meet each week to review and plan. We have learned the importance of being able to adapt plans and to support the family as they settle into a new life in Wales.
In our experience the most important things to do community sponsorship well are:
- To have a team of volunteers who are able to give time to the process of gaining approval for community sponsorship and for providing a welcome over the initial weeks and months
- To find suitable accommodation for the family early on in the process
- To ensure that there is strong local community support and bringing the community with us
We are thankful to have had all of these things in Aberystwyth.
Community sponsorship is well worth doing. We have gained a lot from doing this and we hope that in the future we can welcome more families to Aberystwyth through community sponsorship.
Aberaid is a member institution of Citizens Cymru Wales. If you have been inspired by Siôn's article and are interested in setting up a Community Sponsorship scheme in your area, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.