Suffolk Refugee Support is granted nearly £500,000 by Big Lottery Fund
- Credit: Gregg Brown
A charity that acts as a lifeline and safe haven for refugees and asylum seekers in Suffolk has secured funding to keep it running for the next three years.
The Big Lottery Fund has awarded Suffolk Refugee Support (SRS) just under half a million pounds to last until 2020 through its ‘reaching communities’ grant, following a competitive bidding process.
Rebecca Crerar, team manager at Ipswich-based SRS, said: “It’s an absolute blessing that we have been sent this vital help from the Big Lottery to keep us open in the future to enable us to help so many people who don’t have anywhere else to turn when they arrive, bringing with them the scars and trauma from what they have had to suffer in their home countries.”
With this money, the charity has to achieve four outcomes.
It must continue to protect refugee women from harmful cultural practices, including female genital mutilation (FGM), and work with other organisations to keep children and young people who arrive in Suffolk with no friends or family safe.
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The charity has also promised to support all migrants into employment and training, as well as to learn good English language, and give them advice on how to stay healthy.
Ms Crerar said: “We are very keen on getting people active and working.”
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She added: “We have to work really full-on to achieve the outcomes we have said we will achieve.
“It’s challenging and full-filling when you see people coming in and improving their lives and learning to integrate in a new society.
“That makes it all worthwhile.”
SRS will continue to provide six English language classes a week, and is also bringing in a new family support worker.
The Big Lottery grant is one of several funding sources that keeps the charity afloat.
This cash will not be spent on resettling displaced Syrian refugees in the county, that is covered by the Government.
When asked what would happen if SRS didn’t gain enough funding to stay active, Ms Crerar said: “There would be a lot of depression and mental health problems.
“People would be isolated and they would feel very cut adrift by the system because if they were housed under the asylum process in Ipswich there would be no other support given.”
Case study: Mohammed Ismail
A father-of-two who fled war-torn Iraq in 2002 has said he will never forget the kindness shown to him by SRS.
Mohammed Ismail spent 15 days travelling in the back of a lorry to escape his home province of Diyala when it was under the rule of Saddam Hussein. Both his father and brother were killed during the conflict.
Since arriving in Ipswich 11 years ago, Mr Ismail, 34, has seen his life turn around thanks to SRS.
He said: “To be honest they have helped me more than anything else in the world. I don’t know how to describe it.
“If I didn’t have this place I wouldn’t have my kids now, they would be in care.
“It’s not just me they have helped, it’s hundreds of people.”
Mr Ismail has two daughters, three-year-old Esme, and Analeah, two.
SRS has paid for Mr Ismail to take English classes at Suffolk New College, supported him through a relationship break-down, helped him into housing and is continuing to assist him with his asylum case.
This year Mr Ismail is expected to find out if he is granted the right to remain in the UK after 14 years of waiting in limbo.
If this is successful, Ms Crerar said she hoped to find Mr Ismail a job in farming or mechanics.
“I will never forget this place for all my life,” Mr Ismail said.