Since Support Refugees in Southwell (SRiS) was formed to help resettle refugees coming to this country, under the government's resettlement scheme, three Syrian families have been welcomed here.

After several years in refugee camps, their arrival in Southwell has had a huge emotional and cultural impact on the families. Helped by SRiS volunteers, local agencies co-ordinated by Newark and Sherwood District Council (NSDC) and a Syrian support worker, himself a former refugee, they are gradually integrating into the community, making new friendships and learning about the British way of life.

The key for successful resettlement is learning English. While for the children, this is relatively easy, most adults find it much harder, requiring intensive lessons and opportunities to practice conversation. Tuition is provided by NSDC and luckily one of the families already has some English.

Occasions for meeting others, including local residents, are hugely beneficial, especially for the mothers who, due to their culture and tradition, might have fewer opportunities to get out and about. With the help of a volunteer group in Rolleston the mothers have enjoyed a number of events. Recently, they visited the knitting and crochet group at Southwell Baptist Church, where they received a great welcome.

There was also a delightful coffee and cake morning at La Parisienne, when about a dozen women enjoyed delicious coffee, croissants and home-baked pastries whilst talking in English, apart from when Noelle surprised everyone with her fluent Arabic!

Speaking on behalf of the families, Bashir Al Oush said: "Since the wonderful party on our arrival, we have been made so welcome by this community. Our children are able to go to school and college safely, some for the first time in their lives, and many local people have offered us their support.

"We are so grateful for all the help we have received from the SRiS volunteers and the wider community, helping us settle into our new homes."

Ian Bunting, Chair of SRiS, added: "It must have been a daunting prospect to arrive in a strange new country but the families are settling in extremely well. The most important thing now is to achieve a level of fluency in English to enable them to work and become self-sufficient. They would welcome opportunities for volunteering, work experience and to join local groups, giving them further chances to make new friendships while practising everyday conversation."

If you feel able to help our Syrian friends with volunteering, work experience or by inviting them to join your community group, please contact Ian Bunting on 01636 813868, e: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or Peter Brooker on 01636 812197, e: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Published March 2020