We were joined on Zoom by Jo Sherring, coordinator from Epsom Refugee Network (ERN) this week. She began by telling us about how refugees are people who have been forced to flee because of persecution, war or violence in their own country and that they would go home if they felt it safe to do so. She described how ERN was formed in 2015 and grew out of the Epsom and Ewell Foodbank as there were many refugees and asylum seekers who went there. ERN work with many people from Syria and are expecting 5 families from Afghanistan soon to arrive in Epsom and Ewell Borough for resettlement. As a result, they are one of the largest refugee charities in the area.
Help is offered to refugees in the form of access to translators, doctors, dentists, legal help and other local support services such as the Citizen’s Advice Bureau and charities such as Migrateful, Tern and RefuAid. They are being supported with English language tuition delivered by volunteers. They are given support with job skills like the driving theory test and food hygiene. Some come from wealthy families but need their self esteem raised. Others may have been doctors and teachers in their own countries but need the language skills . They may have to retrain if they want to work in the same profession. Children are supported in school with language teaching and they are helped with homework.
ERN needs support from outside and this includes: private landlords who are willing to rent, financial support to help furnish properties for new families arriving in the UK, support for school uniform, afterschool clubs and training or skills for adults. They need more volunteers to teach English and support with homework. Training is given to all volunteers. You can find out more about ERN’s work here: https://epsomrefugeenetwork.org/
Thank you to our Club members and members from SI Surrey Hills and SI Solent East for joining us. Plenty of interesting questions were asked!
You can watch this video clip from our meeting where Jo is talking about the arrival of refugee children in this country.