BBQ party welcomes 1st new Afghan arrivals

Thank you to all those from our lovely community who came along and made yesterday so special.

One of our volunteers invited us all to a barbecue party in her beautiful garden. The sun shone and everyone brought food, cooked together and chatted. The afternoon was rounded off with some lively Syrian music, which inspired Syrian and Afghan dancing. It was a wonderful welcome for the new Afghan families who have just arrived, and the event perhaps momentarily took their minds off the worry over what is happening to loved ones back home.

Lots of you have been in touch recently to ask about the consequences in Chichester of the situation in Afghanistan, and to ask how you can help. Well, the situation is that before the Taliban takeover, we already had recent arrivals on the Government Resettlement Scheme for 5,000 Afghan people who were interpreters for the British armed forces, and more were expected. Since the takeover and emergency expansion of the scheme to 20,000 people, we haven’t received any information about how many more to expect in Chichester or when they might arrive – probably because the Home Office isn’t sure yet. However, we are poised to welcome an influx at any moment…

In terms of help, we are looking for:

– Volunteer ‘befrienders’ to help new families settle in and then support them to build new lives – email if you can commit some regular time.

– People with ESOL qualifications to provide one-to-one tutoring – email if you can commit some regular time.

Cash donations – we have had five new families arrive in the last five months (three in July!), and because they arrive with virtually no belongings, it costs a lot to provide everything they need. As a small local charity, this has rapidly depeleted our modest funds, so any donations will be very gratefully received and wisely spent. If you can manage a regular donation, it will help secure the future of Sanctuary in Chichester.

A big THANK YOU to Little Bundles, the Rotary Club and My Sister’s House, who have all helped enormously in filling the gaps at this time. When I took a (huge) Little Bundles delivery of equipment and toys to one family who previously didn’t have a single toy, the two teeny toddlers were so delighted, it was tear-jerking to see. They only knew a couple of words of English but kept saying “thank you” to me :’)

**UPDATE** Thank you very much for all the offers of clothes, toiletries, toys, furniture. We don’t have storage and have already supplied the new families with everything they need for now. As new people arrive, we will work with our partners to meet specific needs. If you have items to give away, please contact the Rotary Club (clothes and household items) or Little Bundles (pregnancy, baby items, toys), or take them to a charity shop. What we really need now is cash so we can buy any items that our partners don’t have in stock, and volunteers who can commit time regularly.

Apologies if you have emailed to offer your time or donations and have not yet recieved a response – we are overwhelmed at the moment, but we will reply as soon as possible.

– Gemma Driver

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