West Berks Action for Refugees (WBAR) has a dedicated team of volunteers who work hard to:
– provide some stability and routine and encourage the learning of English
– Improve mental health by supporting participation in sport
– Prepare the Asylum Seekers whose cases are being assessed by the Home Office, for life in the UK (to date all of the Asylum Seeker cases assessed by the Home Office have been successful).
– Support Asylum Seekers who are moving into the Community to find accommodation and secure an income.
– Meet the requirements of increased numbers at the hotel (rising from 110 to 185 in the coming months)
– Working with other agencies to provide support
We have continued to support over 100 residents in the hotel in Thatcham and many more families in the community. We continue to need donations of mens winter jackets and women’s clothes (size 6 and 8) and lightly worn trainers of all sizes. These can be dropped off at Thatcham Town Council office on Brownsfield Road.
As residents are beginning to be granted ‘leave to remain’ status by the Home Office, a new set of challenges have emerged as the process is far from smooth, especially when official paperwork is late or in some cases wrong resulting in last minute evictions from the hotel with insufficient time to prepare for a new life in the community. Please see more on this here.
How to Support WBAR
If you can, please donate to our appeal on the Good Exchange
To find out about volunteering please email [email protected] as we always welcome new members to our dedicated team.
Potential volunteers need to be sensitive to cultural differences. Applications to volunteer will be screened and DBS checks and references may be required. Support and training is available.
To find out more, please follow WBAR on facebook.
We have been delighted that some of our residents have enjoyed volunteering with the Canal & Rivers Trust, helping to maintain the canal locks and infrastructure. The language barrier wasn’t as much of a problem as expected and the CRT was so pleased with the results that they plan to replicate this in other parts of the country.
We have been pleased to organise cycle training and road safety course for the residents of the Regency Hotel in Thatcham. And we were pleased to arrange a generous donation of 14 bikes and a high quality bike stand with covering to protect the bikes from the elements. This has been greatly appreciated by all the residents.
Our WBAR team leader Karen Reeve, has done a brilliant job of getting the services at Regency Park up and running. And Joyce Zealey, our WBAR learning coordinator has organised the English language conversation classes, as language is a vital building block that allows residents to access the other services. Thanks to the new volunteers who have joined us this year we have also been able to run football, cricket and yoga classes which have proved popular. Thanks once again to the Community Furniture Project for supporting these activities by supplying football goals and kit.
With many refugees and asylum seekers needing support in our local area, we have stepped up our operations and outreach work. Longstanding volunteers have continued to support resettled families in the local area from Syria and Afghanistan with weekly English language conversation and cultural support.
Claire McCorquodale says: “We’ve had had such a busy time over the last 6 months. Newly recruited volunteers last autumn helped us to offer conversation and activity classes to newly arrived Afghan families. Our increase in activities has meant higher costs. Thanks to Waitrose, which has given WBAR £400 to help ensure that our work continues. Many thanks also to Greenham Trust who have supported our activities with two grants from their Afghan Support Fund totalling £9,144.30. The well-supported local appeal provided reading books and backpacks for the children. We are also grateful for the excellent work of the Community Furniture Project in supplying car seats and pushchairs to families to enable everyone to get out and about in the area.”
In the early part of this year more wonderful volunteers joined and so enabled WBAR to offer language classes and activities to refugees and asylum seekers living in temporary accommodation. This has included football and yoga classes, with cricket starting soon. Games and conversation classes have proved to be very popular. Thanks once again to the Community Furniture Project for supporting these activities by supplying football goals and kit.
Thanks to fantastic local support the charity has collected clothes, shoes, trainers and toiletries for distribution to those who arrived with very little.
“We continue to collect donations of toiletries, shoes and clothing for new arrivals (occasionally buying hard to source items) and ensuring that the most vulnerable have access to mobile phones – a vital lifeline enabling communication with families at home.”