First, watch another short video: vimeo.com/349471048
Then - we have received this newsletter from Rev. Alan Cook. He is the co-Chair of Westbury Welcome, the Community Sponsorship Scheme group in Westbury on Trym (Bristol) that welcomed their Syrian refugee family in December 2018. He recently sent this newsletter to the Westbury Welcome team and supporters. It is informative and encouraging and he has very kindly allowed us to reprint it here.
If you do Facebook, please do 'like' the Westbury Welcome page, where you can read more about their work with their family (www.facebook.com/WestburyWelcome/). Alan tells me it will be much appreciated.
Christmas 2018 update – by Alan Cook, Co-leader, Westbury Welcome
It's been nearly 4 weeks since our family arrived. Many of you have met the family, but we’re not yet using their names on Facebook, nor posting pictures. We’ll be putting out a newsletter with pictures and first names in the near future.
We're also going to be inviting everyone to a welcoming event in the New Year - details to be determined, probably in late January, but watch this space! Please get in touch if that's something you could help to bring about.
The family’s new life in England has begun. They are settling in well and we are delighted that the eldest boy is now in school and his youngest sister will start in January. The other two children need more help to find the right places for them... our project for the next months! English classes in the home are well under way and friendships are beginning to develop. Bank accounts have been opened, visits to various professionals have happened and financial resources established. Wi-Fi, TV and phone (the bare necessities of life!) are in place.
The family has discovered the blessings of a Bristolian Syrian who brings Syrian bread every Saturday, fresh from a bakery in West London and has met other Syrian families through our friends at Bridges for Communities. Outings to shops and using the buses are happening, and you are welcome to get in touch with Mike Peat (community engagement coordinator) or this site if you think you would like to be involved.
Today was fun - I helped the eldest boy learn to ride the bike we'd given him: "ride on the left" was my motto. We went over to his school, and I think he was happy at the prospect of not having to walk quite so far every day now, as he has been doing for the last 2 weeks. Going out on a bike ride could be a fun way to get to know him (especially if you are, or you know a teenager and would like to do this over the holidays). While we were standing around fixing up the bike, some neighbours dropped by to say hello and to wish them well. This is very important and so much appreciated.
(If you want to get involved and feel a bit nervous about the language, ‘Google Translate’ is wonderful. Bring your phone and enter what you want to say in English, tap ‘Arabic’ and hey presto! there it is, and the Syrian person can read or hear what you’ve ‘said’ in English. If you want to ask more about how to communicate with the family, do get in touch with one of the core team or via this site.)
As Christmas comes, we take a moment to be grateful. We’ve worked very hard to prepare the way for this family. As I was handing over our bags of gifts at the airport, it really did feel like Christmas morning to me. Like the Wise Men, we’ve been arriving with our gifts ever since, and the family is, I know, very grateful indeed. We in our turn are so grateful for them. We rejoice that our efforts have been rewarded with the wonderful gift of this family. It really is a great Christmas story!
We look forward to a very interesting New Year as we continue to get to know one another. And as we go forward, let’s remember that others are coming up behind us, watching and learning from us. There’s a new family just arrived in Henleaze with St Peter’s Church in cooperation with Bristol City Council; there’s a group forming in Cotham and Clifton; there’s a new group that’s formed at the Clifton Roman Catholic Cathedral.
We are part of a hopeful and generous movement around the world - the movement of community sponsorship. People are watching us, being inspired by us, praying for us, and wanting very much for this to succeed.
On behalf of Eveline and the rest of the Core Team, thank you, and a very Merry Christmas to all the members of Westbury Welcome and to all our supporters and friends!
Alan Cook (Co-leader)
And here is another short video clip you can watch! vimeo.com/349471048