Reading Refugee Support Group

01 November 2018

“The drop-in centre is open to refugees and asylum seekers across Reading. We have different groups including English classes and a job club where people can get support and advice.”

“It is a friendly atmosphere for people to meet others with shared experiences. It’s as much a social project as anything else and the friendships that are formed are just as important as learning English or any other activity.

Quite often people who might not be able to read English attend because they have had a letter from the Council. They can be in a mild panic because they see an official logo but don’t know what it says. They trust us to help them and quite often the issue isn’t one for concern, so we are able to reassure them. There aren’t many places people can go and ask what others might think are naïve or stupid questions and not get or feel judged.

Being involved in the project has had an incredible impact on many members. There are several examples of people who came into the centre scared and heavily traumatised and who are now going off into education or employment and their demeanour is just completely different.

For example, our project coordinator is a former project member who volunteered and then became employed through the project after gaining confidence and new skills. It is great to see and we try to share all the positive impacts on our members. The media can be a powerful tool and we work hard to make sure refugees and asylum seekers are portrayed in a positive light. The media are getting more interested in the topic now, but you have to be a little bit cautious  of the narrative.

We are starting to build positive relationships with the media and the BBC is interested in covering our football team.

The football team developed through the project – members arranged a kickabout and, with support, they have now received sponsorship from the Football Association to get set up in the league. We now have about 30 players and it is also open to the wider community.

We have also been working with the University of Reading and recently launched the Refugee Scholarship, creating 14 university places – that is something that will help them create a future in Britain.”

Matt Ayres, Operations Director

 

Reading Refugee Support Group were awarded £49,053 for their drop-in-service project, which is funded through the Trust’s Active Communities programme with money raised through The Health Lottery in London West.

This case study was produced as part of People's Health Trust's 2018 Annual Review. To read it in full, click here.

To find out about more projects funded by the Trust, click here.

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