Our weekly drop-ins were replaced with fabulous outings over the summer. Here are our volunteers’ reports…
The sun shone and there was great excitement as 50 of us set off on a really successful SIC Boat Trip around Chichester Harbour, leaving from Emsworth Pier. Some came in cars, some on the bus. The advance planning by the SIC drop-in team meant that everyone arrived with plenty of time to enjoy the harbour and meet and greet each other.
It was wonderful to have such a happy crew of all ages and various nationalities on board the Solar Enterprise. The children went straight to the front of the boat and really enjoyed using the binoculars to take a closer look at the birds, boats and windsurfers. And we tried locating all the local areas on the map. It was a wonderful opportunity for us to help the children learn new English words and engage in fun and natural conversation. The joy on their smiling faces showed that it was real adventure for them.
Meanwhile, the grown-ups began handing around tasty treats and again, it was a chance for easy conversation and sharing of cultures as we discussed the flavours of foods ranging from fudge to sunflower seeds. As the boat is solar powered, it was beautifully quiet which meant that we could all hear each other. Indeed, some of the Syrian men began singing Sea Shanties much to the delight and amusement of everyone.
It was a treat to be out on the open sea with the light sparkling on the water and the breeze blowing in our faces. But some of the refugees wanted to know more about the harbour and the history of the area. So, Walid kindly offered to be an interpreter and worked with the guide to share anecdotes and local facts about this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
We were all surprised when the boat began heading back to Emsworth Pier. The hour went so quickly, and was thoroughly enjoyed by everyone on board. These outings may take a lot of organisation and planning, but they bring a real sense of community for our service users and volunteers, and a deepening of friendships through shared experiences.
– Mary Atkinson, August 2019
DAY AT THE BEACH
We all met at St Peter’s church hall, East Wittering, which made a great place to gather and wait for everyone – and shelter from the rain! Ellen served tea and coffee, and the children played games on the grass outside in between the showers. We were on the beach by 1pm, just as a heavy shower had passed. Apart from the odd spot of rain, it wasn’t wet again until we packed up at 5pm.
Food was shared as usual, including Syrian homemade sesame biscuits, baked for Eid.
It was great having the help of Tom, the minibus driver, he was getting all the children together on the sand playing games. Sally brought volleyball, kites and various other beach-friendly games. The tide was out all afternoon, and by 4pm the sun was shining and the little children were having such fun paddling in the warm shallow pools, nobody wanted to go home!
– Mary Downy, August 2019
We had a few afternoons at Priory Park, which were essentially ‘Drop-In at the Park’ with our usual lovely food-sharing as a picnic but with the addtion of lots of games. Here are reports from two of the Priory Park days:
Huge display of food and drink! Penny brought a skipping rope (washing line!) – and the kids loved trying to skip – which was followed by a tug of war. One volunteer brought a whole suitcase full of games and Rosemary arrived with a trolley of park games!
– Ellen Thompson, July 2019
Priory Park was busy with young families, babies and toddlers when I arrived. A few of us sat and shared Linda’s home cooked pastries, until Helen organised us to play cricket.
We were so lucky with the weather, there were some threatening clouds after 5pm but before that there was a cool wind but it remained dry with even some sun.
– Mary Downy, August 2019
“Thank you to Sanctuary for this great opportunity“; “Really it was a great time“; “I learnt so much” – these were just some of the positive comments from three young refugees and asylum seekers – all students – who joined two volunteers on a day trip to London on 28th June 2019.
The day was carefully planned to take in some of the major sights within a budget, and the volunteers provided a healthy picnic. Although one of the hottest days of the year, everyone proved to be very enthusiastic and hardy sightseers! It was a wonderful way of introducing the students to British culture and traditions and it prompted interesting questions, meaningful discussion and comparisons. We all learnt from each other, shared some laughs and started to get to know one other.
We began with The Changing of the Guards and then headed down Bird Cage Walk – to Westminster – and on to Downing Street. We walked along Whitehall – stopping just under Admiralty Arch where we found a little shade to sit for our picnic. The students were very keen to venture into the National Gallery – and really enjoyed the exhibits they visited. Then the No. 15 bus took us to Tower Hill. We walked down beside the Tower of London to the river – past Traitor’s gate and up to Tower Bridge. We continued on to St Katherine’s Dock for a cold drink before heading to the Underground and on to Victoria.
The following week at the Drop-In, the students were invited to write about their reflections on the day out. It was a group exercise guided by the two volunteers and a purposeful way of learning new vocabulary, practising writing English in the past tense and then reading out loud to others.
In their own words: “My favourite part of the day was the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square. It was the first time I had been there“; “My favourite painting was by Joshua Reynolds“; “I saw many tourist groups from other countries following their guides“; “I was surprised to see the Prime Minister’s house. It was so small“; “The Guards on Whitehall are not allowed to move or to smile”.
The students continue to talk about their day in London and say they can follow political news programmes with more interest and knowledge.
– Mary Atkinson, August 2019