The Open Way is Essex
Due to the passionate work of Refugee Welcome Dagenham, the Abo-Alhawa family were welcomed to Essex in March 2019. After two months, we have the pleasure to say that this Syrian family of five is settling well into life in Dagenham. The three children are now all in local schools and are thriving. Mum and Dad are working hard with their ESOL group to bring their English up to a level where they can find work and become self-sufficient. They are quickly becoming an integral part of the community in which they live and have embraced the community as part of their warm and loving family. For this path, they are assisted by a team of 20+ volunteers recruited from right across Essex and East London who helping this family to feel them at home.
Fr Gareth Jones (the Director of Refugee Engagement for the Diocese of Chelmsford and Project Coordinator of Refugee Welcome Dagenham), told us,
"From day one of my church agreeing to sponsor a family locally we knew we were doing the right thing. The process is hard work for sure, and requires commitment, risk, belligerence and a lot of patience, but the end result is worth it. Seeing the faces of this family we had been anticipating for so long come through the arrival gates at the airport brought me to tears. If you’ve been dilly dallying about whether to get involved in Community Sponsorship, then all I can say is, stop it and just get on with it. You’ll never dot every ‘I’ and cross every ’t’; you’ve got to take a leap of faith. You won’t regret it. You’ll be part of a story that is changing the trajectory of life for some of the world’s most vulnerable people".
The Diocese of Chelmsford (Church of England in Essex and East London) has formally welcomed over 130 refugees via the VPR Scheme since 2015, and is now seeking to roll out a further 6 Community Sponsorship projects before the end of 2020.