18 June 2012
To mark this year’s Refugee Week
the British Red Cross is urging people to celebrate the positive contribution refugees bring to Wales.
The Red Cross plays a key role in supporting vulnerable refugees
and asylum seekers and helping them settle in to UK life. This can include projects to help people find out about life in the place they are living, as well as volunteering and learning opportunities which may lead to employment.
Findik Savda, 36, is one such refugee supported by the Red Cross.
She fled her home country of Turkey after facing discrimination as an ethnic Kurd, but when she arrived in the UK she knew no-one and could hardly speak English. She turned to the Red Cross for help and was offered English classes, which have made a huge difference to her life.
“Things are looking good for me now,” said Findik, from Newport. “If I can learn more English then hopefully I can get a job, I would like to work in a nursing home or perhaps with older children. All of this is thanks to the Red Cross and the support they have given me.”
Findik is one of the scores of women supported by the Red Cross’s refugee service in Newport. The English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes are free and include a crèche facility.
Theresa Mgadzah Jones, refugee and migration support services coordinator at the Red Cross, explained: “I noticed a lot of men were accessing classes but not the women. I just wanted somewhere for the women to come and start learning English.
“These classes are a stepping stone for the women. The confidence they gain from it is so great and the transformations we see in these women speaks volumes.”
The Red Cross in Wales offers a number of services to refugees, asylum seekers and vulnerable migrants.
Its orientation support includes giving individuals help accessing health, welfare and legal services. Trained staff and volunteers also provide information on local community services and signpost to other agencies assisting refugees in the area. Special employment skills workshops help refugees improve their employment chances and get a better understanding of the labour market.
The destitution service provides emergency support including supermarket vouchers, small food parcels and clothing vouchers to use in Red Cross shops.
There is also a mother and toddler group in Newport, called Rhyme and Time, which aims to familiarise children of refugees with the English language and common nursery rhymes before they start nursery.
Refugee Week is a UK-wide programme of arts, cultural and educational events from 18 – 24 June, which celebrates the contribution refugees make to life in the UK and encourages better understanding between and within communities.
Follow all the latest Refugee Week news and events on Twitter by searching #RefugeeWeek.