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Working together to support war refugees

Published: Friday, 25th March 2022

Services in west Norfolk are coming together to support war refugees as they arrive in the borough to make sure they do not experience additional hardship on top of the trauma they have been through.

The council has provided £10,000 to fund a temporary part-time support worker for migrant charities Access and the Hanseatic Union and it has also put in place an emergency grant scheme to help anyone at risk of financial hardship.

Cllr Stuart Dark MBE, leader of the borough council, said: “Our priority is to provide a welcome package for refugees that is compassionate and comprehensive.

“The best way we can do this is by working with and supporting our partners, drawing on the expertise of each, to make the transition process as smooth as we can make it.”

The temporary post has come about as a result of discussions with Access and the Hanseatic Union to deal with their anticipated increase in demand. The council immediately responded with funding for the post that will allow the charities to give tailored support to individuals and families and work with all partners to ensure specific needs are met.

The emergency support grant will be administered by the council’s Lily service and will be given to help alleviate any immediate hardship refugees are experiencing between arrival and putting statutory services in place for them.

There is a Facebook page called Open House UK – that has been built purposefully to link people offering donations and people needing donations. This is the first port of call for people whether they need practical support or want to make a donation. Other information about services and help available are on the Access migrant support Facebook page and Hansos Unija Facebook page.

Julie Chaplin, of the Hanseatic Union, said: “The Hanseatic Union and Access are responding to people needing support by offering sessions where people can talk and relax, as well as the usual information advice and guidance sessions.

“Many people in our community have been affected by the war in Ukraine and our services are here to support everyone who needs help. Maybe you just need to talk about how you are feeling or you have family in Eastern Europe, or maybe you need to ask advice. We are here!

“The work that the borough council is doing to provide a welcome centre for those who need support is such a good idea, with all resources in one place it will give the refugees a place where information and practical support is provided. Access and Hanseatic Union are really happy to link and be part of this service.”

Edward Maxfield, director of Access, added: “From the moment the conflict started people from across the community have come to us with their worries but also to offer to help. We are still waiting for all the details about how refugees will be supported by the government scheme but local people and local organisations are already working to help those who need support or guidance. We should be proud of the kindness so many people have already shown locally, whatever their background.”

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