Furness Refugee Support
The name of the charity is Furness Refugee Support
AIMS and PURPOSE: To provide whatever support we can to refugees both before they arrive in this country and afterwards, by collecting cash donations and donations of clothing and equipment. Other practical support will be provided once refugees arrive in Furness, in cooperation with other statutory and support organisations
POWERS: The charity will research and organize activities and work with other organizations to support the aims and purpose. It may acquire other powers as agreed at the Annual General Meetings
MEMBERSHIP: The Charity shall have a membership. Anyone over the age of 16 who supports the aims of the Charity can apply to become a member of the charity, but the Board of Management is restricted to 10 people.
OFFICERS: Officers shall be elected annually from the membership, and will consist of a Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer, and Press Officer. The press officer may be supported by other trustees as required. Vacancies occurring will be filled by vote at the meeting immediately after the vacancy arises, and will last only to the next AGM. The Board of Trustees will conduct the business of the charity in accordance with the wishes of the charity and will report formally once a year at the AGM, with a Chairman’s, Secretary’s and Treasurer’s report, recorded in writing.
MEETINGS: Meetings of the Board of management will be no less than 8 a year with an Annual General Meeting in April which will elect officers of the charity. Voting on issues will be by simple majority, and a quorum will be 5 board members. Meetings will be minuted and circulated. If management board members have a conflict of interest they must declare it and leave the meeting while the matter is being discussed or decided. During the year, the trustees may appoint 2 additional management board members should vacancies occur, but they will stand down at the next AGM. The board may make reasonable additional rules to help run the charity. These rules must not conflict with this constitution or the law. If the board consider it necessary to change the constitution, or wind up the charity, they must call a General Meeting so that membership can make the decision. The board of management must also call a General Meeting if they receive a written request from the majority of members. All members must be given at least 14 days notice and told the purpose of the meeting. All decisions require a simple majority. Minutes must be kept.
EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES STATEMENT
The organization does not and will not discriminate on any grounds whatsoever, including, race, sexuality, disability, sexual orientation, age or religion. The organization will challenge this wherever it comes across it. The organization will comply with all legal requirements in this respect.
THE AGM: The AGM is held every year in April, and at least 14 days notice is given to members. There must be at least 8 members present at the AGM. Every member has 1 vote. Any member may stand for election. The board will present the annual report and accounts. Members shall elect a maximum of 10 to serve. Each year 3 members will retire and 3 will be elected. Retiring members may stand for re-election.
FINANCE: The charity will open and manage a bank account with signatures of 3 Board members, any 2 of whom are required to sign all cheques. A financial report and bank statement will be presented at each meeting. The charity is not allowed to overdraw, and any surplus arising from activity will be put back into the activities of the charity.
ALTERATION TO THE CONSTITUTION: The constitution will be formally reviewed every 3 years, but any member may raise an issue at the Annual General Meeting for discussion. However no changes will be acceptable which propose a move away from the ethos of the original aims. Proposed alterations will be voted on by members and simple majority will be the method of accepting/incorporating changes.
DISSOLUTION: Should the charity cease to exist, any assets it holds in terms of money and equipment will be given to a group or groups locally who have broadly similar aims and objectives
Cumbria and the Resettlement Programme
The Syrian Vulnerable Person Resettlement Programme is a UK government programme that plans to resettle 20 000 Syrian refugees from refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt and Turkey over the period from September 2015 to May 2020. It is run in partnership between the UK Home Office, the Department for International Development, the Department for Communities and Local Government and NGOs such as Refugee Action.
The government works closely with the UN to identify people most at risk to resettle. This includes people who have urgent medical needs, survivors of violence and torture and women and children that are at risk. Once in the UK, they are granted 5 years humanitarian protection and not indefinite leave to remain. They are given housing, unemployment benefits and have the right to work, use of the NHS, and enrolment in schools and colleges. For the first 12 months the adults are given at least 8 hours of ESOL lessons a week, plus the close support of a Refugee Resettlement Officer.
Upon agreeing to accept 285 individuals over a 3 year period (including a number of refugees from other countries besides Syria), Cumbria County Council voted to take a confidential approach to their arrival. They did not publicise the arrival of families, nor share more than the most basic information with other agencies involved, including within its own departments. This policy continues.
The first families arrived in Carlisle and Penrith in April 2017. Since then families have been resettled in Carlisle, Penrith, Whitehaven, Workington, Kendal, Barrow and Ulverston. As stated above, each family has a designated Refugee Resettlement Officer (often referred to as a case worker) who works closely with the family, helping them adjust to life in the UK, in the first 12 months of their arrival. The Council have recently reviewed this and accepts that the officers will continue working with the families, as needed, after the initial 12 months. ESOL courses have also been extended to continue until all learners are Entry Level 3 (can have a decent conversation in English).
Some relevant information on Syria:
Before the war, Syria was a multi-cultural and multi-religious (87% Muslim, 10% Christian and 3% other) middle-income country, with good employment and literacy rates.
- Health care:
- 90% of medication in Syria was produced locally.
- Easy access to health care and specialists at very little cost – no need to be referred by a GP, no need to ring for an appointment and no need for a prescription.
- Limited mental health – only two hospitals in the country
- Mental health is still a taboo
NB – the need for an appointment and NHS waiting lists are a great cause of frustration for many of the resettled Syrians.
- Free public schools
- 6 years primary – 6-12yrs – mixed
- 3 years lower secondary – 13-15yrs – segregated
- 3 years upper secondary – 16-19yrs – segregated
- Up till 2000 education was compulsory till the end of primary, after 2000 it became compulsory till the end of 9th grade – 15yrs. However it was not well regulated, especially in rural settings.
- Free public schools and university
NB – the refugees that have arrived include highly educated professionals and non-educated people. Some have spent less than two years in education.
- it’s expected to ask something multiple times
- When asked something, it’s polite to refuse at first
- It is custom to place their hand on their heart to show gratitude
- Communication with officials – they ask everyone to get the answer they want.
NB – refugees will ask anyone they think will be able to help them for information and help with their issues. To ensure that you are not contradicting the caseworker, please refer back to them about any issues the families bring up with you. This is very important as it is about managing their expectations.
- Before the conflict the average age for marriage was 18 or older. Now the average age is: girl 13-16yrs; boy 16-20 yrs
- The women of the family are generally responsible for the housework
- Fathers are the decision makers
- Older siblings care for younger ones
- Community care for all children
- Children care for their elderly parents
- Physical violence is a common as a form of discipline
- Disabled children are still seen as a taboo – siblings can struggle to marry
- Large family support network – not used to Social Services
Issues with living in the UK
There are many issues the refugee faces in living in the UK. Besides struggling with the language, having to negotiate (with support) such agencies as the DWP and NHS, a lot suffer from culture shock.
A sense of confusion and uncertainty, sometimes with feelings of anxiety, that may affect people exposed to an alien culture or environment without adequate preparation.
- Panic attacks
- Loss of self-confidence
- Compulsive behaviour
- Intense homesickness
- Loss of motivation
- Excessive amounts of time spent on insular activities such as sleeping or watching TV
- Feelings of hopelessness or helplessness
- Suicidal thoughts
NB – Culture shock is common among resettled refugees. It is noted that whilst it is okay for individuals and families to withdraw from others for short times, it is not okay to withdraw completely. Unfortunately mental illness is still a taboo and can be a very difficult subject to broach with families, or get them the help they need.