Support for Refugees
Here at GrIP, we believe that anyone facing persecution or physical threat has a right to become a refugee and seek asylum in a place where they feel safe and welcome. We are proud to say that we work closely with the Council and other community organisations to facilitate and support the resettlement of Syrian and Afghan refugee families into the Royal Borough of Greenwich.
We are currently working with 20 Syrian families and will be working with 14 Afghan families to help them get settled and grounded within Greenwich life. Integrating into a new community can be difficult for anyone, especially when there are additional barriers such as language and culture. For these families, once the practical elements are dealt with, it can be a long challenging task to truly make the UK and Greenwich feel like home. The work we do, including the efforts of our incredible and hardworking volunteers, helps to make people feel welcomed, supported and part of the community.
The Greenwich Sanctuary Project
The Greenwich Sanctuary Project is a collaboration between the Greenwich Islamic Centre, the Royal Borough of Greenwich and GrIP to support the resettlement of Syrian families who have come to the UK through the UNHCR vulnerable persons programme.
GrIP’s role in the project, headed by our volunteer coordinator Fatima Jama, is to connect these families to the local community through a range of volunteering projects. Our volunteer roles offer the families support, friendship and help to integrate into the community.
Greenwich Afghan Resettlement Service
As of May 2023, we have been commissioned by the Royal Borough of Greenwich Council to support the resettlement of Afghan families who have come to the UK through the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS) and the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP).
GrIP’s role in the Greenwich Afghan Resettlement Service, headed by our support workers Ariana Masoud and Faridoon Muhibi, is to help these families get settled into Greenwich life, by connecting them to local community. Our volunteers assist in this by offering the families English language training, support and friendship.
Our volunteers work to provide informal English lessons to members of our Syrian families, to supplement their college classes. The level of English these families have on arrival varies massively and it is essential that these families can learn and practice their English, so they are able to gain independence, find work and excel in education. Most members of the family will be enrolled in some form of education, with many of the adults attending college ESOL classes. Even those with high levels of English benefit from practice and additional structured lessons from our volunteers.
Our volunteers facilitate walking groups in collaboration with community organisation, Blaze Trails. Refugee communities are at high risk of social exclusion, poor health, and mental illness due to the traumatic experiences leading to their resettlement, separation from family and friends and other isolating factors. Our walking groups encourage our participants to engage in gentle exercise, boost their confidence in exploring local parks and green spaces and help them feel connected to one another and the local area.
Our Women’s Party has been running for almost three years now and offers the Syrian refugee women we support a space to socialise, connect and dance. Here, they can move freely to traditional Syrian 'dabke' music with movements inspired by belly dance. It is also a way of experiencing ‘home away from home’; as the women bring authentic Syrian dishes and share this after the dance. It is a shared space with no official ‘leader’, but it benefits from the presence of one of our befriender volunteers who is a qualified Dramatherapist and is familiar with the experiences of refugee women.
Greenwich Borough of Sanctuary
The Greenwich Borough of Sanctuary is part of the City of Sanctuary movement, which aims to create a network of towns and cities throughout the UK that are proud to be places of safety and inclusion for people seeking sanctuary.
We all deserve a safe place to live, where we can thrive and be in control of our lives. But we know that it can be difficult for many people living in our communities, because this government is making decisions that divide and exclude refugees, asylum seekers and other migrants.
We work closely with the City of Sanctuary Project and the Royal Borough of Greenwich Council to ensure that Greenwich is a welcoming place where everyone can build a life, be part of the community and get the support they need when times are tough, no matter their immigration status.