Well, this has been a strange year!
I hope that you are keeping well and managing to cope with the ever-changing rules designed to help keep us all as safe as possible. It’s been strange for all of us, but imagine arriving in a new country and only four months later going into lockdown. I am glad to say that the Syrian family, who we were able to welcome just over a year ago, is coping remarkably well with all the ups and downs this year has brought. This is in no small way thanks to the many volunteers who have provided food parcels, one-to-one walk and talk English lessons and Zoom English lessons for every age group. As the children have enjoyed going back to school, we have concentrated on working with the Canterbury City Council Refugee Resettlement Team to provide English learning support to the adults. I want to particularly mention two groups that have not only taught English but have created supportive community groups. Firstly, there are the young adults, who meet every Saturday online to improve their English for college and university supported by volunteers. These meetings have given the young men the opportunity to get to know each other and provide mutual support. Secondly, the Ladies English group has made a real difference to the refugee women, who could so easily feel very isolated. This group, supported by volunteers, has flourished and developed. In the last few weeks, the group has taken part in a project called Peace Together. Canterbury Welcomes Refugee Trustee writes:
‘’Peace Together is a new project to bring people closer through art. It aims at offering a safe place for refugees and the local community to connect and enjoy each other’s company through online workshops’
It has been a joy to watch this group flourish and to share laughter and tears as they travel along the journey of rebuilding their lives in this country. It was a particular joy to welcome our Patron, The Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Bishop of Dover to one of the Peace Together online sessions to meet with the women and admire some of the beautiful artwork.