Guest post by Mary Whibley of Bude RSG
ARRIVAL – 21st June 2017 – World Refugee Day.
At 7.00a.m. my husband Mike & I with Joan, Charlotte (interpreter) & Abdulghani (interpreter) met at Bude Haven School where the minibus & Claire (driver) were waiting with Nicky Gowan.
For my part the journey was a time for reflection on how this all started. The terrible scenes of drownings in the Med., film of mile upon mile of men, women & children trudging along roads, across fields, hoping to find a country to take them in, news reports of bombings, devastation of a beautiful middle income country and its people being destroyed. As I stared out of the minbus window, unaware of the passing countryside, my thoughts turned to our family and all that they have gone through to make the decision to leave their homeland, all their friends and relatives in the hope of a safer, better life. The enormity of their decision weighed heavily on me & I really hoped I would not be too emotional when I first met them.
We arrived at Bristol airport at 9.30, an hour before the flight was due to arrive, as requested by the Home Office. Unfortunately the flight was delayed so it was gone 1.00 before our guests appeared. There were 3 families arriving for resettlement – 1 with Somerset council, 1 with Wiltshire council and our family. They all came out together with an official from the International Office of Migration (IOM). After some minor confusion we established which family was which & set off. First impressions – a lovely, smiley family.
After approximately 20 minutes we found a picnic spot with a little shade & set about a feast which Joan had thoughtfully prepared. We arrived at the accommodation getting on for 4.00. The family appeared very pleased with the flat and its contents. The little girl loved the doll’s house & pushed the boys out of the way when they tried to play with it!
We had quite a bit of paperwork to go through & things to show them. They must have been exhausted. The next few days are full of appointments for registering with dentists, G.P. job centre, opening a bank account and getting the boys to school. They start school on Monday.
Abdulghani & I arrived at the flat at 10.30 this morning to introduce the family to Rosemary their landlady. Sandy & Tony who are organising the befrienders team popped in & explained what the befrienders can do if the family want. The parents then decided that they would like to go for a short walk with us. We set off for Rosie’s café, Crooklets up to Summerleaze passed Sainsbury’s & back home.
Later in the afternoon Nicky Gowan heading up the English lessons met the family. She brought a lovely welcome poster from her students and lots of literacy handouts. They can all say ‘hello’, ‘thank you’ & ‘bye’.
Friday 23rd – Friday 30th June.
Well it has been quite a week!
Eid was celebrated on Sunday with presents & a trip to build sandcastles with Yasmin befriending. Penny & her son also visited with Lebanese food & presents.
The boys started school on Monday. All the family, Abdulghani, his wife (that’s another story!) and I trooped up to school for 9.30. We were shown around & then the boys introduced to their classes. Everyone was very warm & welcoming. Paperwork involving arrangements for school lunches, permissions for outings, photographs going into newsletters, emergency health treatment had to be signed as well as numerous forms giving names, dates of birth, addresses contact numbers and information sheets explained, translated & signed. Break time came & a teacher came rushing in to tell the parents to come & watch the boys playing. We all left about 11 with the boys saying that they wanted to stay all day. They have settle in well so far although Ali told me that Abedelwahed had a ‘battle’ on Wednesday – it turned out to be a playground romp which he had enjoyed.
We opened a bank account on Tuesday.
We spent much of the day at the Job Centre on Wednesday.
We registered the family with G.P. & dentist on Thursday – thanks Joan.
This morning with Tameem (interpreter’s) help we have set up direct debits for the utility bills. The internet is working well.
On top of this the family has had a 2 hour English lesson every day. We have been trying to arrange for befrienders to entertain the 2 year old while the lessons take place.
Hopefully now most of the paperwork is completed the family can spend their time getting to know the area & enjoying life here.