Rose McCarthy was appointed as Refugee Support Worker in August 2022 working 9.5 hours a week. Utilising her extensive experience and links in the world of Refugee and Asylum Seeker Support, she has been able to support existing work and catalyse new opportunities and links.
It has been very encouraging to see lots of things happen in recent months, as people interested in these issues have also given generously of their time and donated items or money to help. Rose says: ‘The local response to supporting people seeking sanctuary has been incredible. To be honest it has made my year and I am inspired by all of you.’
Friendship Group for Refugees at local hotel
Members of St Mary’s church and its parish (Our Lady of Kirkstall) responded to the needs of a group of 120 men seeking asylum housed in a local hotel by setting up a Friendship Group. Every Monday they provide a Conversation Club, sort and give out donated items, organise trips out and build relationships where all learn from each other. Rose was already part of this group and continues to support them by training volunteers and linking with other agencies across the city to provide lots of new opportunities. The men have often come from traumatic situations and only have £8 a week, plus they are not allowed to work, so they really appreciate activities to keep them occupied and learn more about society in the U.K. Activities have included a drumming workshop (Opera North), use of football pitches at Leeds Trinity University, bike safety training and a 5-week course on ‘Finding your Voice’ run by Rose to help them tell their stories in front of a group.
Through the generosity of several organisations wishing to help refugees, many trips and visits have taken place including:
• Trip to Deer Shed Music Festival in Thirsk,
• Day trip to Settle (People and the Dales)
• Celebration of Refugees Day at Leeds Trinity University,
• Day at Yorkshire Cricket Club (tour and cricket lessons)
• Coppicing in Nidderdale (NAONB)
• Volunteering to deliver Christmas cards
Collecting donated items
Many wonderful donations have been received and distributed, including bikes, bike accessories, clothes, prayer mats, Christmas presents and touching cards written by school children.
Working towards Horsforth becoming a Town of Sanctuary
Three meetings have taken place so far with up to 22 people attending – people who are interested in learning more about refugees and people seeking asylum and how we can be more welcoming and supportive. We have met and listened to ‘experts by experience’ telling their story, discussed ideas for what Horsforth can do more of, and heard a bit about the nationwide City of Sanctuary movement. Further meetings will look at how Horsforth can work towards becoming a Town of Sanctuary, please see the HCT website Upcoming Events page for details.