The past year has been very eventful for us all, with lockdowns and gradual opening up, seeing loved ones for the first time in months, political intrigue and a lot happening locally with refugees and asylum seekers. At RA-C our activities have continued to expand, and there has been an increase in casework as well as in our volunteer base.
One of the most pleasing developments has been our growing involvement with the Colchester community. The Together We Grow CIC has widened to involve two therapeutic groups while the regular volunteers at the Big Garden have taken our clients to their hearts, work with them and are proud of what they do together.
The redevelopment and reopening of the Mercury Theatre has allowed for increased involvement with theatre staff and a number of our families, children, befrienders, asylum seekers and volunteers attended the dress rehearsal of this year’s pantomime. What was particularly heart-warming was that when six of the young asylum seekers needed somewhere warm and safe to shelter between their weekly table-tennis session and the performance they were welcomed into the theatre café. They were given hot drinks and snacks by Stefan Capper, a new contact there, and after the show theatre staff made a point of talking to the excited children.
Another community contact has been established with the Co-op Bank, where a wonderful hidden architectural treasure, the Dome Room, has been made available to us during bank opening hours for community activities. Currently we have a sewing group, coffee morning, children’s drama group and English class all convening here at different times of the week. The bank staff are friendly and supportive and we hope this relationship can continue throughout the coming year.
We cooperated with the Headgate Theatre one Sunday in entertaining some of the new Afghan families when they could not stay at their hotel accommodation owing to a wedding booking.
We have had contact and a couple of walks with Rowena Macaulay of Jane’s Walks. This has not fully taken off yet but we will have another attempt to get clients together in the spring. They like the idea of group walking but cannot always keep to the arrangements. The more people we can get involved the less it will matter if some cannot attend.
Finally, when our own drumming sessions recently finished for this season, Hassan, our teacher, invited our clients to attend the sessions he runs for and with local people. So far 3 of our young people have been along and have loved it.
Whilst we value the development and continuation of our own supportive community, our aim is for our friends/clients to feel welcome in public places and buildings and to feel part of the wider community. With these recent developments we feel this is very definitely happening.
Elizabeth Curry, Dec. 2021