Tottenham Refugee Alliance

By Amy Bush

A local community group are working to raise funds and recruit volunteers to help a refugee family fleeing conflict find a safe home in Tottenham.

The Tottenham Refugee Alliance (TRA) are applying to become community sponsors under the Home Office’s Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (VPRS). The VPRS helps refugees who have been affected by the conflict in Syria, particularly women and children at risk, and survivors of violence and torture.

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As part of the community sponsorship scheme, local groups in the UK can apply to support a family who have been forced to leave their war-torn home. There are certain criteria they need to meet first, including raising £9k, which the TRA have already achieved thanks to generous donations from the public. The group must also provide housing for two years and support the family in a variety of ways for the first year. The TRA was created by a group of people passionate to help a family in need and they are now well on their way to fulfilling the requirements of the scheme. However, they still have some targets to reach and to do this they need the help of the people of Tottenham.

Key to the success of the application and the overall project will be the work of volunteers. As Bronagh Adams from the TRA told DT, they are currently looking for people to help in a variety of roles, from fundraising and publicity, to safeguarding and welfare. Once the family have arrived in the UK, ‘befrienders’ will be needed to collect them from the airport and take them to their new home. They will then help the family with day-to-day activities such as showing them the local amenities, registering them with a doctor or simply being a contact if they need advice. Volunteers are also wanted in roles relating to education and training in order to help the children with reading, or support adults with job applications. Although not essential for all volunteering roles, people with Arabic language skills will be valuable additions to the team. All the volunteers will play a vital part in helping the family integrate into the community and feel welcome in their new north London home.

Now that the TRA have raised the initial £9k to begin their application, the next step is finding a local landlord willing to rent their property to the family. Suitable housing needs to be secured before the Home Office will allow the group to apply to support a refugee family. They are looking for family accommodation, but the number of bedrooms isn’t necessarily important as the Home office will allocate a family dependent on the size of the property the organization has found.

Finding a landlord to help with the project is integral to its success, and could also be an extremely rewarding experience for someone, as Bronagh Adams explains: ‘it would be ideal if the landlord was willing to be one of the volunteers, that way they would know exactly what the project was about and would be an excellent support for the family.’

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If you would like to apply to volunteer, or to find out more about volunteering roles, contact details and information can be found on the Tottenham Refugee Alliance website: tottenhamrefugees.org.uk/wp/how-to-volunteer

Fundraising is ongoing and all additional money raised will go towards improving the family’s accommodation and buying essentials such as clothes and toys for the children. Donations can be made on their crowdfunding page: uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fund/tottenhamrefugeealliance

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