Suffolk Refugee Support Group
It has been a challenging year for the people this organisation supports, as it has been for so many. Some of the issues their clients already faced – isolation, anxiety, disadvantage, deprivation and lack of access to services – have been heightened by the coronavirus crisis and Rebecca and her team quickly adapted their services to meet urgent needs, stay Covid secure and make sure vulnerable people are safe and well.
They have provided emergency support, welfare checks, schools liaison and educational resources, IT support and skills training, 1-1 volunteer tuition, translated guidance on how to stay safe and protect others, as well as delivering their full range of services remotely, including advice work, employment support, youth work, ESOL classes, their Skills Exchange project and International Women’s Group. They have also highlighted those they support who have been on the frontline of the crisis, employed in key worker roles.
As well as their English language tuition and group work, to be delivered remotely by phone, email, WhatsApp and tools such as Zoom and Bramble, they also provided more than 2,000 advice contacts on subjects ranging from health and mental health, to schooling and education, and destitution and emergency support. They quickly recognised the need to be proactive to ensure no acute needs went or will continue to go unmet, so the team worked hard to carry out hundreds of weekly welfare checks with those who have been and continue to be seen to be most vulnerable or isolated.
This emphasis on maintaining contact with clients has ensured that people have not felt abandoned at a time when many services have reduced personal contact. They are aware that, as lockdown eases, there will be increased demand for their services, particularly in areas such as mental health. The funding and support they have received via Suffolk Community Foundation over the last year has been vital in allowing them to adapt and deliver important services, but also to identify new priorities and meet emerging needs, and to ensure that some of the most vulnerable in our society are supported through the current crisis and beyond.
“We are hugely grateful to Suffolk Community Foundation for all their ongoing support, as well as vital funding from the Coronavirus Community fund. As a result, we have been able to make a genuine difference to the life chances of people who are highly vulnerable and who have the least resources to deal with the current crisis.”