DESPITE dreadful weather, more than 80 people from Uplyme and Lyme Regis packed Uplyme Village Hall last Friday to hear plans to run a Community Sponsorship scheme to resettle a refugee family from Syria in the area.
Display boards were set up in the hall, showing the experience of neighbouring schemes in Devon and enabling residents to learn more about the government scheme.
Sarah Uppard explained the Community Sponsorship scheme and how it could work in Uplyme.
Anna Roderick, the project leader of the Abide group in Ottery St Mary, then described their experience from an initial public meeting in October 2016 to greeting and helping to settle a Syrian family in September 2017.
Anna explained the process, timescales, challenges and highlights with humour and sensitivity. She felt the community benefits in Ottery had been inspiring, as people working together formed new relationships, learning from each other as well as about different cultures.
The secondary school students had been very keen to be involved and creative community events to raise funds and to link other Syrian families in Devon had been very successful.
An enthusiastic question and answer session followed where issues such as religious and cultural differences, minimising risks of racism, support from the government and local councils, language teaching and translation provision, sign-posting to other specialised services, and time and financial commitments were covered.
Residents were also invited to talk individually to Sarah, Anna or Uplyme Community Sponsorship volunteers and to leave their contact details if they were interested in contributing time and skills to the scheme.
The Uplyme Community Sponsorship group would like to welcome anyone who is interested in lending support or in further information to contact them by email on firstname.lastname@example.org
Further information on the scheme is available at www.gov.uk/government/publications/apply-for-full-community-sponsorship