Holywood Resettlement Group

Helping to say 'Welcome to our Town'

Moved by devastating events in Afghanistan and determined to take action, local Holywood residents came together to form the Holywood Resettlement Group.

 

UPDATE NEW YEAR 2024

 

 

We were delighted to welcome a refugee family to Holywood in June 2023, a mum on her own with four small children under 10.  The family arrived on a beautiful summer evening and were treated to a delicious meal prepared by one of our amazing volunteers.  Miraculously the first couple of weeks were uncharacteristically sunny, getting things off to a great start as the family, with our help, began to get to know their local patch – the shops, the school, the surgery,  the playground, the beach. Before long the family became a familiar sight in the play park on long, summer evenings. 

 

The family’s arrival was the next step in a long journey which began two years before in response to the devastating events in Afghanistan and a desire to make a difference. Despite frequent chivvying, our group waited a long time for the Home Office to find a suitable family but we used the time well – finding and furnishing a small three bedroomed house in the heart of the town, organising school places,  finding a local doctor and (eventually) a dentist, working out benefit and transport entitlements and setting up activities for the children during the summer break. We also organised interpreting help to make the early weeks easier.  

We are thrilled to report that all our preparations have paid off and the family has settled brilliantly. Of course, there have been bumps in the road, mostly caused by bureaucratic hiccoughs but, so far, the experience of Community Sponsorship, has been wholly positive.

The family has grasped the opportunities in their new country with huge enthusiasm and energy, throwing themselves into everything from volunteering in a community garden to football and Irish dancing.  The kids are loving school and Mum has worked hard at her English lessons. As a result, the family’s English has come on in leaps and bounds.  Mum’s courage and adventurous spirit has taken the family beyond Holywood to Bangor and Belfast for activities and events. Our team of volunteers has been on hand to support the family whilst trying to make sure they build their own links and independence. A tricky balance to strike, but a successful one.

Our local community has welcomed the family with open arms and everyone involved has been enriched by the experience. Relationships have blossomed between the family and the community and between the volunteers involved in supporting the family. The family is now well known in the town which will, in time and is already making a great contribution to our community.

In short, Community Sponsorship has proved a win-win and everyone involved has learned so much. It is not easy, and it is not over, but it is immensely satisfying to see this family blossom in their new home.

Thank you to each and every one of our supporters who have helped make this experience such a positive one, giving one family a new start and, in doing so, inspiring other host communities to follow suit. 

 

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