We are a group of people from different communities in Oxford who want to see that the basic needs of displaced people in the city are met. Many of the original members are Kurds and Syrians who have settled here or have been displaced and we recently held a series of meetings which more than 150 people (not including children) attended.
Our underlying philosophy is to welcome all who need help. It just happens that the need arose as a result of the on-going and unresolved crisis in Syria and the surrounding region, and those who have been most supportive are local Kurdish and Syrian volunteers who have been working hard for the community with language support and access to housing and local services since their own arrival in Oxford as refugees some years ago. They have had no official recognition for their work – which is all done voluntarily without financial help from official bodies or other sources – while they support their own families and set up local businesses.
We would like to create a welcoming space in which ideas, cultures and languages can be shared for the benefit of people of all communities in the Oxford area.
Our aim is to provide a community space where all the displaced in the Oxford area can meet, share information and access whatever support they need. The space will provide a drop-in service with internet access and translation support. The space will be a family space where children will be safe to play, and where childcare can be arranged for parents who had work or education commitments; a space with a kitchen and large enough to hold events and activities, where all the diverse Oxford community would be welcome to engage. We are still looking for such a space, but in the meantime, our group is meeting and holding gatherings at the Quakers Friends’ building, or in a small room at the East Oxford Community Centre. We have to find money to fund rental costs, so we have been unable to meet as often as we would like.
Apart from providing a community space we are also active in providing other kinds of support, particularly education.
Last year we were involved in setting up ESOL language classes with Oxford University language centre.
We have also helped families and individuals liaise with medical practices and other local and national government in matters of health, housing, and visa applications.
Examples of the educational and other help we would like to provide include: