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A word from Helen


1 Apr 2023

Wow! What a roller coaster we have been on over the last 18mths, working as a great team between Stockport council and several partners

Wow! What a roller coaster we have been on over the last 18mths, working as a great team between Stockport council and several partners, we have overcome lots of barriers and found new and innovative ways to support the refugees and asylum seekers, residing at the contingency Hotel in Stockport.

From existing resources, within the Communities and Inclusion Team and working with the public health team, we have benefited from the strong voluntary, faith and community relationship in Stockport. From the outset, we have had commitment from local churches involved in offering weekly family activity sessions, and its been a real churches together approach, with involvement from Methodist, Catholic, Quakers, local mosque and Baptist churches.

From over 50 volunteers, there has been more than 6,000 hours equating to nearly £100,000 volunteer time in kind, has been given! Volunteer tutors have been giving up their time, on a weekly basis, to help refugees at the hotel who want to improve English-speaking.

They have come forward thanks to word of mouth or via Sector3’s volunteer hub and Stockport’s continuing education service, have put together resources for the tutors, to ensure continuity and support.

By working with different Stockport community organisations and social enterprises, refugee families have joined in different school holiday activities, from gardening to football and crafts to dancing; or weekly sessions to improve mental wellbeing!

Merseyway, in Stockport, have been a great support at Christmas time, by raising awareness of the needs of the refugees, via the Giving Tree with either presents for the children or gift cards for the many Shops and also at Christmas and other religious periods, the Equality and Diversity organisations, have given gifts and organised activities for the families.

Last September, Pure Innovations Hub successfully set up ‘Community Corner’ at the contingency hotel to encourage refugees to access local groups and activities, and it has gone from strength to strength.

A nearby allotment opened by health colleagues, to involve hotel residents in healthy eating projects, has been a welcome addition too! Externally, we have had further support for clothing donations and distribution from the Stockport residents, and most fortuitously, Loaves and Fishes – Stockport homeless charity – have been regularly collecting and redistributing recycled clothes, their willingness and experience has been a godsend! Many local organisations have offered support to the refugees, including Stockport County charity offering sports clothes, training shoes and footballs to younger people or any keen footballers! For refugees going through their asylum journey and without it, there’s no way it could have been as successful as it has, and we hope it continues. The refugee and asylum seeker support team, recently won a Ambitious Stockport award, and the contribution and long standing relationships and shared commitment between third sector partners and statutory teams, is the main thing which has made it possible! We would like to thank all of them for their continued support and involvement. Long may it continue!

Helen Johnson (Communities & Inclusion Team - March 2023)

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