Written by Bekele Woyecha
I had the privilege of travelling to Tyneside on Saturday 23rd March to join the launch of Tyneside Welcomes. I thought it was a long journey on a weekend. Oh my God, it was worth it. It felt like I was among my extended family - Tyneside Welcomes. Amazing people gathered for a great cause. Folks doing something practical and worthwhile whilst enjoying themselves through the process. People of different generations gathered creating a real buzz and adding to the razzmatazz. What else can we ask from Community Sponsorship?
I at times travel both around the UK and abroad; and there is a topic I raise when I meet friends and colleagues. It is nothing but about Community Sponsorship of refugees and what it means for me. What my role is in this and my passion for this great scheme and what I would have loved to achieve years and decades from now. For me, it is all about leaving a long-lasting legacy.
Travelling to Tyneside was part of my Community Sponsorship journey and learning. As someone who has been to many Community Sponsorship and Refugees Welcome events in the past few years, I always find it fascinating to see community leaders taking charge and trying their best to deliver the best event ever. One thing for sure, Tyneside Welcomes launch event excels and has set the bar high. The event was not only about, turning up, awareness creation or raising money. It was also about having fun, togetherness and addressing the issue in a community spirit. So good was the event many people didn’t want it to end. Music by a phenomenal local band called The Crossing Band made the event even more spectacular.
It wasn’t by sheer luck the organisers were able to bring more than 120 people. They organised themselves and reached out to friends and allies. They thought about it and took time to strategize. That was why they were able to bring folks from Tyneside and Wearside. The organisers were able to organise a spectacular event with stories, food, drinks and great music. Having the support of the local MP Mary Glindon, Member of Parliament for North Tyneside was an added bonus. The MP who joined the Tyneside Welcomes launch said, "It is really good we all got together to welcome a family to North Tyneside. We need to be kind to one another.” Richard Young, who was at the heart of organising the event said, "We want to do something together, something hopeful."
The Tyneside Welcomes launch event was a great show of solidarity and one that exceeded expectations. Given this great community spirit, it won’t be long until a family is resettled and supported by a community that can deliver; and of course we will have another phenomenal gig in the not too distant future. Go Tyneside Welcomes!