Dear Friends and Supporters
I hope you are all keeping well. I realise it is some time since I have been in touch with news of the refugee families settled locally. Time has been rather elastic over the last few months and I apologise for not communicating more frequently.
The Syrian families, by and large, seemed to adapt to the stringent requirements of the lockdown period with resilience and equanimity. Of course, most of them have family in many other parts of the world as well as the Middle East so there was some comfort in knowing that nearly everyone was facing similar restrictions. Our wonderful befriender volunteers continued to stay in touch with the families: for several months this was online or with phone calls but more recently they have been able to visit in gardens or meet up in the park. The families, too, are now beginning to meet up with each other outside and there was a small gathering on Norton Common recently to celebrate Eid together.
School work and college classes all went online in March and thanks to all the generous contributions to our crowdfunder appeal at Christmas time to raise money for laptops, we were able to provide them to most of the families in Hertfordshire who needed one for the children or adults to continue their studies.
A baby boy arrived safely to one family in early June and is thriving. Fortunately we were able to provide most of the equipment they needed from kind donations. There are two more babies on the way, due in late autumn so more causes for celebration in these difficult times. More good news when two people in Letchworth passed their driving test recently. This milestone greatly broadens opportunities for employment.
Those of you who are members of Herts Welcomes Refugees will know that our AGM postponed from March was held online in June which enabled us to comply with the Charity Commission’s requirements. We had planned an event that would involve hearing from several of our refugee partners about their experiences of settling here but this was not feasible online. At some point in the future, we hope to be able to hold a similar evening whenever that becomes possible. Mick Hayter, our much valued treasurer, has decided to step down and we have been fortunate in recruiting Mala Mulholland to take on the role. As well as a sound background in finance, Mala is the daughter of refugees who came here from Sri Lanka so has a good understanding of the issues.
With best wishes and thanks for your continuing interest and support