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Supporting a refugee family during lockdown

Dorset Council has resettled a total of 82 Syrian refugees across the county, as part of the national resettlement scheme. We support refugee families with the help of local volunteers and charities.

In March 2020 we welcomed the last family to arrive in Dorset, before all refugee resettlement was suspended as a result of Covid-19. Here’s how we helped the family in the lead up to and during lockdown.

“There are new ways that you or your organisation can help refugees coming to the UK.”

When the family arrived, generous donations from a local charity and volunteers meant their home was ready with all the essentials they needed. The charity International Care Network (ICN) met the family to set up their bank accounts, supply them with groceries and register them with essential services. Local volunteers helped to welcome the family to their new community, the children were enrolled at the local school and the parents started English lessons.

It was at this time the nationwide lockdown began. Schools closed, lessons stopped, and all non-essential contact became impossible. We needed to make sure the family continued to be informed and reassured throughout. To support the family at this difficult time we:

completed regular welfare checks
explained the health guidance and new government rules, providing information in English and Arabic to help their understanding
put them in contact with a member of staff at Dorset Council to answer any concerns or queries
supplied a mobile phone using Home Office funding and a laptop, as part of a wider council project to provide IT equipment to vulnerable children
The family’s English teacher developed an entirely new English learning programme to deliver online, so they were able to continue lessons each week. ICN also continued their support by phone and WhatsApp to ensure the family had access to money, food and essentials.

The local community have shown generosity throughout this time donating stationary, books and goods for the family. The local school has been amazing, providing dual language books and other materials for the children to continue their learning at home.

Finally, we had the great pleasure of delivering gift packs with donated toys to all the refugee families in Dorset. It was wonderful to spread some cheer during lockdown and see the children’s smiling faces during our deliveries.

As lockdown eases, we’ve resumed visits to this family to help them feel less isolated and to help them progress with their new life in the UK.

Despite the family arriving in a new country shortly before the lockdown, they remained in good spirits. On a recent visit the family expressed they’re keen to work and get more involved in their local community, as soon as it’s possible to do so.

Would you like to get involved, or make a donation?
Due to coronavirus our Volunteer Centre are not recruiting at the moment. However, if you’re an English teacher, or you speak Arabic and are interested in helping, please contact the Volunteer Coordinator: [email protected]

Find out about more ways to get involved and make a donation.