As part of our commitment to support the local community, both as a proud independent company and as members of the Bath Percent Club, every year we ask our to team to research and discuss local charities, before deciding to which we should pledge our support and donations. In the first of two blogs, we introduce one of the charities unanimously chosen by our team this year, whose work not only supports people in dire circumstances, but also enriches and diversifies our local community.
Bath Welcomes Refugees (BWR) was founded in 2015 to harness the goodwill of the community in welcoming and supporting refugees and asylum seekers. Their trustees, management team and countless helpers are all volunteers, and they rely upon donations and funds raised through events, sales, and community support. In total they have a membership of over 400 and support more than 100 individuals. BWR also works in partnership with Julian House as the council’s designated support for families arriving in Bath under the government funded scheme.
Bath Welcomes Refugees harness the goodwill of the community in welcoming and supporting refugees and asylum seekers
BWR works to find housing for refugees, furnish and equip it, and also to provide items such as toys, books and computers. The families arrive with almost nothing of their own, and although computers might seem to be a luxury, they are a vital tool of language acquisition which is at the heart of successful resettlement.
BWR organise a monthly social group (currently suspended due to COVID) and other social events for the refugee community to offer friendship and support and help alleviate cultural isolation. Fortunately, the charity has managed to attract a great deal of community support from local businesses, museums and art galleries, churches, schools and universities.
Before a family arrives, the BWR volunteers stock the kitchen with food and a meal is prepared by one of the settled refugee families to welcome them after what is usually a very long and tiring journey. Each family has a team of resettlement volunteers who help with a multitude of activities, such as orientation to the local area and facilities, and accompanying people to appointments (e.g. health, job centre), as well as being generally friendly and supportive. The charity has a large team of qualified and experienced volunteer language teachers and each family member is matched to an individual teacher. They also offer group lessons and run a Study Club to help the children with their academic needs. Volunteers help with gardening, DIY and benefits advice, as well as supporting the families with job training, employment and legal matters.
In 2019, there were 26 million refugees in the world and of these, 1.4 million were identified as being in need of resettlement. Just 63,000 refugees were resettled.
One section of the BWR organisation, Beyond Bath, monitors the larger refugee picture and organises donations and volunteers to Calais, amongst other projects (COVID permitting). Tragically, only 0.5% of refugees worldwide are offered resettlement. In 2019 for example, there were 26 million refugees in the world and of these, 1.4 million were identified as being in need of resettlement. In the same year, just 63,000 refugees were resettled. This is why it so important to consider the wider refugee picture and keep important campaigns that ameliorate this situation in the public eye.