Cotham and Redland Welcome is a group made up from local people and organisations wanting to have a positive impact on the refugee crisis caused by the endless Syrian war. Around half the Syrian population has been displaced, and hundreds of thousands are living in refugee camps in neighbouring countries. The UK government has decided to allow a meagre total of 20,000 Syrian refugees into Britain over five years. Over 300 Syrians have already settled in Bristol, with support from the City Council and from local community sponsorship groups.
Cotham and Redland Welcome (CRW) is part of the Home Office’s Community Sponsorship Scheme (www.sponsorrefugees.org ). Redland Quaker Meeting has been represented on the CRW planning group from the start, initially by John and Hilary Mayne and myself. We felt this was a good way to get to know our neighbours, as well as to help refugees. The aim of the group is to welcome and support one displaced Syrian family to make their home in our local community. This involves finding suitable accommodation, furnishing and decorating it, and providing day to day support including access to social, educational and medical services for at least two years.
We are working closely with the charity Citizens UK (www.citizensuk.org), which has much experience of community sponsorship. With the benefit of their advice, our group has made good progress towards meeting Home Office requirements, and we are confident that we shall be ready to receive a Syrian family during 2020. One requirement is fundraising to help provide support and stability for the newly arrived family. The minimum target is £9,000, but we hope to raise £15,000. There will be an appeal for Cotham and Redland Welcome after Meeting for Worship on 22 December.