Many refugees and asylum seekers arriving here suffer trauma, isolation and depression. Sadly, the asylum process can take many years to process, during which time people can experience phases of homelessness, severe hardship and loss of hope.
Three organisations – Embracing Refugees, Beyond Borders Totnes & District (“BBT&D”) and The Dartington Hall Trust (“Dartington”) – have joined up to do something about it. United as the South Devon Refugee Support Network, they are providing practical support for refugees and asylum seekers on their challenging journey, by helping them to integrate into our communities.
The Network aims to raise £3,500 before Christmas and this will be match funded by Dartington. This will pay for basic reception accommodation to be made ready. A further £3,000 is sought to cover essential transport and the cost of carrying through ideas for cultural integration and practical support made by South Devon people over the last few months. This could not have happened without the vital connections created by BBT&D and Embracing Refugees.
Dartington has offered White House in Foxhole (the old Dartington Hall School site) as a suitable venue and there is emerging strong interest in taking up this offer. But before that can happen, it desperately needs some renovation, plus health and safety work to bring it up to an acceptable standard. It’s also lacking basic kitchen equipment. The Trust is committing to match fund any money raised up to £3,500 to pay for this.
The building will provide:
On behalf of the Network, The Dartington Hall Trust’s Director of Social Justice, Celia Atherton, says:
“Dartington has a long history of welcoming refugees. During the Second World War we took in artists and teachers from Germany and Spain, and welcomed evacuee children from London. They added to the wellbeing of our local community and many of them kept up links and affections with others who lived here. Today we all face the same urgency – to help people in terrible distress in our global family.”
White House, built in 1962, is a self-contained building that will comfortably accommodate up to seven families. Small, but important, adjustments are needed to make the building habitable, to cover:
Due to the time and effort generously contributed by a huge number of local people to make the building fit for purpose, only £7,000 is needed to pay for the items above. Half of this has been pledged by The Dartington Hall Trust.
We need to raise £3,000 to organise events and activities that will be organised to give refugees, asylum seekers and local people equal opportunities to build social bridges and enrich their life experience. This will add to the important groundwork being orchestrated by BBT&D and Embracing Refugees.
Via the beyondborderstotnes.org.uk website and the collaborative round table events, many local people are offering to help individuals and families integrate into our communities and to form a ‘Hub of Support’. The practicalities involved in organising, creating and sustaining this support mean we need to cover costs for:
- transport to health clinics, immigration, or social services offices, events, outings, workshops, hosting and cross cultural exchanges in and around Totnes,
- materials for projects, workshops, creative projects and skill sharing,
- food and drink,
- essential health and wellbeing needs,
- postage, communication and paperwork for organisation of practical support,
- promotion, design and print for some of the events.
The rewards highlighted are estimations of the actual costs of what each amount could fund. All of the money will be spent to meet direct costs incurred. If for any reason not all of the money is needed, any remaining will be donated to the Red Cross Syria Crisis Appeal.
Embracing Refugees is non-profit community organisation, based in Totnes, that helps local people, refugees and asylum seekers to build social bridges and maintain resilience through participating in well-being events where they can embrace their differences and celebrate their individuality and health.
Beyond Borders Totnes and District is a group of local people working to establish an infrastrucxcture for local people to create and become involved in sustained (ambitious or low-key) local initiatives to support asylum seekers and refugees in South Devon It is being developed in co-ordination with and with advice from established Refugee services in Plymouth and Exeter. The group acts as a point of co-ordination of information about local initiatives and a place people can sign onto with their contact details – signaling their offers of help, projects that need support and ideas for involving refugees in daily life.
Dartington Hall Trust uses its landed estate to support creative, resilient communities to make positive social change. It supports regional food production and farming, creates jobs, builds homes and enriches lives through the arts. Its enterprise activities include the Shops at Dartington, a conference centre with accommodation, as well as a restaurant and bar.
This project offers rewards in return for your donation.