Reading Refugee Support Group 2017
Reading Refugee Support Group was set up in 1994 to provide a range of support to refugees and asylum seekers in the Greater Reading area. In recent years the international flow of asylum seekers, refugees and internally displaced people has grown at a dramatic rate and we have seen a corresponding sharp increase in the numbers requiring our services.
Since 2010 RRSG has welcomed an average of 50 new clients per annum. In 2015 RRSG began assisting a number of local authorities across Berkshire in their delivery of the UK’s Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme and currently support families across 4 areas of Berkshire.
We work closely with all agencies, including healthcare services, and Thames Valley Police (including the Police & Crime Commissioner), Reading Community Learning Centre, the Red Cross and with local Food Banks.
We are increasingly being involved in supporting trafficked women who access our services, assisting them to access support agencies relevant to their complex needs.
We provide a range of services and support for refugees and asylum-seekers.
Held in a community building in central Reading, our case workers are available at these sessions to hold an initial consultation with individuals and families, address any immediate needs then and there and perhaps arrange for a longer appointment later in the week to explore more complex issues such as housing or schooling. Play resources are available for children and a range of information is on display. This open session has made us much more accessible and brought forward many families this year.
We have homework clubs at two independent schools in the Reading area. One school holds one session and the other holds two sessions a week. At each session, teachers and sixth formers assist the children and young people with homework. Over thirty children benefit from these sessions weekly which are entirely volunteer-run.
Our case workers (one paid worker and four volunteers) meet with individuals and families to provide advice, signposting and guidance on a wide range of issues and services. We have expertise and skills in benefit advice, housing, schooling, and work hard to ensure that all our service-users are accessing the support that is available to them. Where required we can provide volunteers to attend meetings, to translate information and to offer general support. We have assisted 114 people in this way in the last three months.
This group aims to reduce the profound social isolation of many of the women who access our services. Providing a safe and social space for women, the group provides support and works with the attendees to help them to achieve their personal goals, whether this be employment, education, language skills development. Around 15 women attend this group weekly.
This group focuses on CV writing, identifying employment information, as well as providing access to computers. We are working to establish direct relationships with employers such as the new Ikea to provide supported employment opportunities as well as work experience. This group averages ten people a week.
Volunteers work with individuals and families to develop their language skills. This can be one-to-one or in a group setting.
We support Syrian families across 4 areas of Berkshire under the governments’ Syrian Resettlement Scheme.