As the monthly Community Meetings have gone from strength to strength we are also attracting more volunteers who want to get actively involved in Refugee Action – Colchester. This is just as well as the calls for help from sanctuary-seekers from many countries, are increasing all the time, as people realise the precariousness of the government’s attitude to immigrants. More befrienders have become the lifeline of some of the families.
At the Community Meeting on Feb 7th, Emma Reeve the Programme Manager for Communities, from First Site. will be showing the sanctuary seeking community the art works that the Arts Council think may be suitable exhibits in an exhibition to be put on in June. Emma has been consulting some interested members of our community about what they feel particularly concerned about and stewardship of our world has been amongst the ideas expressed. We hope that, by looking at the Arts Council suggestions, even more people will express their views and so be represented in the final exhibition.
Other exciting community initiatives are the initiation of a women’s craft group and more computing tuition. A group of university students, Student Action for Refugees, (STAR) have been discussing their ideas with us and as a result of this are running an art, craft and conversation group for women, particularly those who would like and need more social contact. This will begin next week and women have already expressed their interest.
Having had a basic computing course for women in Autumn 2019 we are intending to start one for men in February 2020 and for this we are lucky to have the involvement of David Lyons, a long-term supporter and an honorary fellow of the University of Essex Computing Department, and his wife Roberta Schepps.
Other group initiatives are in the earlier stages of planning and I may be reporting on them in the next newsletter. We are lucky that STAR have some of their own funding but we have also been able to buy equipment with a small grant we obtained, but funds are always needed.
The Cello Club for children of 7-13 years has settled down to 6 committed regulars and this is as many as Juliet can teach in any one session. Because she is only able to talk to one or two children at a time she is helped by Floran, (a 6th Former), Izzie, an ex- 6th Former, one of the fathers and me.
My English group is also progressing and it is a delight to experience the growing conversational confidence of the women who attend.
We had a lovely Forest School early in January and a testament to its success was the fact that despite the bitter cold no-one left before the end. If we can obtain some funding we hope to be able to have these more regularly. At the moment they depend purely on the goodwill and availability of the leader and helpers.
Please bear in mind that if you want to get more involved, you are welcome at our Community Meetings. It is one of our requirements that volunteers come to a meeting to get a greater feel of the organisation and we hold Volunteer Information Days every few months to extend the initiation of people who want to volunteer regularly.