Monthly gathering with refugees
Swindon Quakers organise a monthly gathering for refugees and asylum seekers. Swindon is a 'dispersal town' so newly-arrived asylum seekers are often placed in Home Office accommodation in the city. Christine shares how local Quakers felt it was important that people feel welcome and at home in Swindon.
Swindon Meeting has for many years had a close association with a project in the town providing a drop-in venue for displaced people. The Harbour Project has grown as the need for help for increased, and Friends have acted as trustees, volunteers, and informally befriended individuals where a connection has been made.
An invitation home
A year ago, Swindon Quakers developed the connection further by inviting refugees to a Saturday afternoon in a members' home, for tea and conversation. The idea was born from an established programme of monthly teas for isolated elderly people which takes place in cities across the UK (not a Quaker initiative), and has been running for many years.
We felt that refugees and asylum seekers rarely have the opportunity to visit a home, and that by inviting people collectively to our homes we created an opportunity for conversations and greater understanding – not to mention the chance for Quaker bakers to indulge their love of cake making!
A regular monthly gathering
The event has become a regular monthly gathering enjoyed by all. Numbers have increased to the extent that it is no longer possible to host in our own homes, so we host in the meeting house, offering transport for families and people who live too far from the centre.
The children are catered for with things to do, and the conversations flow over food. This is very easy to organise and we are fortunate to have an easily identifiable source of visitors in Swindon which is a dispersal town.It is a very simple way to extend the hand of friendship, understanding and support. It can make such a difference.