On Friday 28th October, organisations from across Greater Manchester and the Diocese of Shrewsbury  came together in Wythenshawe to listen to refugees and asylum seekers, in order to plan how to better support and welcome new arrivals.

Catholic Children’s Society, Diocese of Shrewsbury and Caritas Salford joined with Ivy Church, the SVP, Revive, Serco, and Mike Kane MP at St Aidan’s Centre in Wythenshawe to listen to what new arrivals had to say. 

At the start of the evening, volunteers from the local area welcomed participants with tea, coffee, cake and a fabulous vegetable curry.

MP for Wythenshawe and Sale East, Mike Kane, said:

“We want to move away from the contractual welcome and move towards a conversational welcome. We are working together at tackling poverty and refugee issues within the area of Wythenshawe. This event allows us to listen to new arrivals and focus on what we can do now. We are not here to change government policy; we are here to have a look at the practicalities.”

In order to make the event as inclusive and as welcoming as possible, flyers and written materials were translated into five languages: Turkish, Farsi, English, Arabic and Kurdish. Translators attended the listening event, which enhanced communications and bridged language boundaries. 

Jenny Riches, Refugee Response Coordinator at Ivy Church, said:

“It’s a wonderful experience, bringing different organisations together, working towards enhancing the lives of those we are welcoming into our communities.”

Lawrence Bettany, Community Service Manager for Caritas Salford, said:

“Listening events are important as they ensure we are responding to the needs of those we are seeking to help. We work actively with partners across Manchester to welcome refugees, supporting drop-in centres and providing emergency accommodation.  In order to know what more we can do, we need to listen and then provide.”

Mary Kilcoyne, Director of Catholic Children’s Society for Shrewsbury Diocese, said:

“The refugee crisis is something that has really touched the diocese as a whole; we have been fired into action in order to help our global brothers and sisters. It’s about welcoming a stranger into the local community.”

We are excited to continue to work in collaboration with and to provide enhanced support to our newest neighbours in Wythenshawe.

There were approximately 80 people in St. Aidan’s centre that evening and their requests were for support in: English lessons, advice/signposting (education system, asylum system, health care and housing ) , emotional support and friendship, written information with contact details of services, the opportunity to feel useful – ie volunteer work.

To meet these needs, people would like us to provide: English classes Signposting/advice sessions A buddy/befriending scheme Written local information in welcome packs

We will be looking for volunteers and people with the relevant skills to support this venture in Wythenshawe.

Please contact 0151 652 1281 for more details or to offer your time and skills.

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