Events&Updates

For older updates please see here.

CRRC‘s first official AGM was a success!

posted 23 Jul 2017, 07:20 by Nina Szymor   [ updated 23 Jul 2017, 23:54 ]

(Written by Heidi Radke)

We welcomed over 30 active and a number of new volunteers to our AGM on 5th July 2017.  In very varied and colourful presentations, core group members gave a stimulating overview of CRRC’s manifold activities and the impressive progress the Cambridge Refugee Resettlement Campaign has made since its foundation in September 2015. 

The Treasurer presented his report including the good news about a healthy budget; and the Board of Trustees of the, now registered, Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) was introduced. Important points were discussed, for example highlighting the relevance of critically assessing how to use CRRC’s funds best in order to really make a difference.

The official part ended with a presentation and discussion of CRRC’s plans for the upcoming year with a special emphasis on ensuring that the information of CRRC’s services is accessible and transparent to all beneficiaries, the commitment to our housing campaign, the development and training of employability skills, and, of course, continuation of the other CRRC activities. The continued significance of the Arabic-speaking volunteers was especially noted, acting as translators, befrienders and teachers, as they are crucial links to many of the refugee families.

Lively discussions continued in smaller groups during the following social while enjoying tasty snacks from ‘Middle Eastern Food and Sweets in Cambridgeshire’, a budding catering enterprise from a group of CRRC beneficiaries (see https://m.facebook.com/middleeasterncamfood/).

Thank you to everybody attending for making the AGM such an enjoyable and positive evening!

The evening underscored the unrestricted commitment of CRRC to strive for the best possible volunteering experience with CRRC while keeping our beneficiaries in the centre of our work.

Many thanks to the Society of Friends (Quakers) for supporting the AGM by letting CRRC use their rooms and facilities.

The annual report can be found here


Annual General Meeting

posted 20 Jun 2017, 07:03 by Tony King

We cordially invite you to our

Annual General Meeting

5 July 2017, 20.00 Jesus Lane Friends Meeting House


AGENDA

Annual report
Presentation and vote to accept the annual accounts
Transformation of CRRC into a CIO with vote on winding-up the 'Unincorporated Association'*
Current and planned future work
Any other business

*On 2nd May 2017 CRRC has become registered as Charitable Incorporated Association (CIO - Foundation, charity number 1172836 ). In order to complete this move the present Unincorporated Association (UA) will be wound up to allow the transformation into the CIO. A social with refreshments will follow the AGM. Come and meet other CRRC volunteers & supporters and share your experiences, successes and ideas!  Timetable

8pm Welcome

8.15 AGM

8.45 Social with refreshments

10pm Close

General Election Hustings on Refugees on 17 May

posted 8 May 2017, 08:23 by Leonie Anna Mueck   [ updated 8 May 2017, 08:24 ]

17 May, 19.45, Emmanuel United Reformed Church, Cambridge

Ask Stuart Tuckwood (Greens), Daniel Zeichner (Labour), Julian Huppert (Lib Dems) and John Hayward (Conservatives) about their opinion on Human Rights, Equality and Refugees!


Local campaign groups join forces to hold election candidates’ debate on refugees, human rights and racism
The candidates of the main parties fighting for the Cambridge seat in the General Election will be taking part in a hustings debate at Emmanuel Reformed United Church on May 17.
The event is being organised by local activists who are part of a network of groups campaigning for the rights of refugees, human rights and minorities. The public will have the opportunity to ask local candidates questions on immigration, refugees, equality and international responsibility. These issues are high on the agenda of many residents in a city with one of the highest Remain votes in the UK and a busy calendar of refugee fundraising events, anti-racism demonstrations and organised convoys to refugee camps in Northern France.
The event, which starts at 7.45pm, will begin with a speed dating format during which the audience will be able to submit questions, followed by a panel debate.

Volunteer Profile Paula Pinzón

posted 2 May 2017, 12:53 by Leonie Anna Mueck   [ updated 2 May 2017, 12:57 ]

Our second featured volunteer is Paula Pinzón. Paula has been with CRRC since October 2015 and has done a little bit of everything, from making of Welcome packs to Volunteer coordination, passing through sorting donations, providing childcare during English lessons, helping organize the Guildhall Event, attending socials to help in any way. She also used to be in charge of the e-mail address and used to be the treasurer. We asked Paula some questions about her reasons for volunteering and how she's finding it:

1. Why did you want to get involved with CRRC?

-        Because I believe in my heart helping in this humanitarian crisis is the right thing to do in this day and age. Also, being Colombian and coming from a country that has been at war for so many decades, I couldn't just stand and look and do nothing to help, even if it's just a tiny bit.

2. What has been the most rewarding moment of your time with CRRC?

-          Every single minute of it has been rewarding, but if I have to choose something I would say seeing the change in the faces of the children of the first families we helped relocate, one year after their arrival in Cambridge. They looked like different people! Much more relaxed and evidently happier!

3. What’s the most important thing that people can do right now to help refugees?

-          Speaking out against hate and discrimination, getting in touch with your MPs and campaigning for the government to do more, and getting involved with any group like ours, even if you only have little time to spare.

4. What’s an interesting fact about about you that people might not know?

-          I'm not sure I'm that interesting! Hehehe! I love cats, I play the guitar and the ukulele and love to sing when nobody's listening! :)

5. Describe yourself as a pizza topping

-        Mmmm...I'm too latin american to be a pizza topping! I'm more like a fruit juice!

Thanks, Paula , for all your wonderful work and commitment!


Cambridgeshire and Peterborough's mayoral candidates on refugees

posted 23 Apr 2017, 07:53 by Leonie Anna Mueck   [ updated 25 Apr 2017, 05:59 ]


On 4 May, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough will elect a Mayor -- a first for the region. While the Mayor will not be directly responsible for resettlement refugees, asylum seekers or unaccompanied child refugees, s/he will set the scene for many things that affect refugees such as housing provisions, skills and apprenticeships, and transport. In addition, the Mayor could play an important coordinating role for different programs across the region. Cambridge Refugee Resettlement Campaign wants to make sure that refugees are on the top of the candidates' minds and hence asked the candidates three questions.* Below are the replies that we received. We hope they help you in making a decision on who to vote for!

Rod Cantrill, Liberal Democrats

1) What, in your opinion, should be Cambridgeshire and Peterborough's role in helping refugees during this time of crisis?
I believe that refugees should be welcomed and encouraged to settle in the area - they have a lot to offer to enhance the rich cultural diversity of the region.
2) If you get elected, what will be your action points with respect to refugees and asylum seekers?
I believe the mayor should be a strong voice for everyone across the region - including refugees.  Although the devolved legislation does not specify this specifically - I believe the mayor can play an important role in coordinating how the various local authorities can help refugees - particularly on provision of housing
3) Which person with a refugee background do you find inspiring and why?
Yusra Mardini, a refugee from Syria who swam in the Olympics - an inspiration to everyone.



Julie Howell, Green Party

1) What, in your opinion, should be Cambridgeshire and Peterborough's role in helping refugees during this time of crisis?

The big picture with refugee housing for Syrian families in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough is that the market rates in Cambridge are so much more expensive than the local authority can pay. It requires one of two things:

- a private landlord willing to take a huge cut on their income from the property

- a local authority willing to dedicate housing to refugees (and bump them to the front of the list)

Outside the city there is cheaper housing, but 

- in some of these locations it can often be too far for the city council support workers to travel

- some areas are just politically not very welcoming, and it could put refugees in danger if they lived there. 

So the mayor needs to:

-    Consider where in the region to house refugees, so that they are safe, so they can travel to work easily, and so that they live in communities where they feel settled and secure.

-   Ensure that Cambridge and Peterborough take their share of refugees. This doesn't mean taking a similar number to other counties in the UK because the UK is not doing its share to begin with. It means taking a number similar to the number taken by other counties who have really made an effort to do so, in regions of a comparable size.

2) If you get elected, what will be your action points with respect to refugees and asylum seekers?

Access to appropriate housing, access to transport, access to education, access to jobs.

When you have all of the above, refugees and asylum seekers can begin to become part of our communities.

3) Which person with a refugee background do you find inspiring and why?

Lucian Freud. Imagine how poorer we would all be spiritually and culturally, if the artistic contribution of the world’s refugees was prevented, destroyed or lost.


James Palmer, Conservatives

1) What, in your opinion, should be Cambridgeshire and Peterborough's role in helping refugees during this time of crisis?

2) If you get elected, what will be your action points with respect to refugees and asylum seekers?
The Mayor will not have decision making powers over settling refugees in Cambridgeshire. This responsibility will still lie with local councils.  As leader of East Cambridgeshire District Council we have tried to work with Government to house refugees in Ministry owned housing in Ely. Unfortunately ECDC do not own any housing stock. One family has been housed in Ely.
3) Which person with a refugee background do you find inspiring and why?
I admire anyone who moves to a new country and starts afresh. There are many thousands of examples and I wouldn't like to single out one.


Kevin Price, Labour Party

1) What, in your opinion, should be Cambridgeshire and Peterborough's role in helping refugees during this time of crisis?

2) If you get elected, what will be your action points with respect to refugees and asylum seekers?
There is some good work already across the Combined Authority area in regard to refugees and asylum seekers. Peterborough is a dispersal centre and Cambridge City Council has committed to taking 100 refugees with many already settled. Cambridge is also a City of Sanctuary. Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council are looking after well over 100 unaccompanied child refugees. I will use the 2016 Cambridgeshire Migrant and Refugee Joint Strategic Needs Assessment to set priorities for accommodation and support needs for migrants and refugees as well as exploring the potential for more dispersal centres across the Combined Authority area. The Combined Authority is an opportunity to ensure a cohesive and co-ordinated approach across the area to taking in and supporting the needs of migrants and refugees. As Mayor I will also make the case to government for taking in more refugees and in particular fulfilling the promises made by the government in the Dubs Amendment, on which it has failed so badly.
3) Which person with a refugee background do you find inspiring and why?
It is not a single person, but the story of the 2016 Rio Refugee Olympic Team. It is very inspiring and each individual team member had personal stories which I followed with great interest before and during the Olympics. I also thought it was very good that the Olympic flame was carried through a refugee camp in Greece during the torch relay.


*We asked Paul Bullen (UKIP) and Peter Dawe (Independent) as well but they did not reply. We could not find an up-to-date email address from Stephen Goldspink (English Democrats).

First Volunteer Profile

posted 1 Apr 2017, 06:21 by Leonie Anna Mueck   [ updated 1 Apr 2017, 06:22 ]

First volunteer profile!

Each month, we will post a CRRC volunteer profile to give our supporters a better idea of the various parts of the organisation. This will give any future volunteers an idea of the work they might be able to do with us, but it also gives us a chance to show our appreciation to the wonderful people that already work here.

Our first featured volunteer is Leonie Mueck. Leonie has been with CRRC since 19th September 2015 (her grandma's birthday!) and has done many things, from organising a football club for a refugee boy to tweeting and other social media work. At the moment, Leonie's main role is to run the PR and campaigning group of CRRC. We asked Leonie some questions about her reasons for volunteering and how she's finding it:

1. Why did you want to get involved with CRRC?

  • I am German and, as is very typical for German families, my grandparents were displaced during World War II. The experience of having to leave everything behind, losing the basis of your livelihood, and being helpless in the face of the seminal catastrophe of a war still reverberates, two generations on. When the refugee crisis came to a head in 2015, I felt that it was my duty to do what I can to alleviate the suffering.

2. What has been the most rewarding moment of your time with CRRC?

  • When Cambridge City Council announced to double their commitment and resettle 100 refugees in Cambridge.

3. What’s the most important thing that people can do right now to help refugees?

  • Help CRRC (or your local equivalent) find private landlords that are willing to rent houses to refugees at local housing allowance rates, and put pressure on the national government by voting for refugee-friendly parties and writing to your MPs about the issue.

4. What’s an interesting fact about about you that people might not know?

  • When I was a child, I wanted to be like Jane Goodall and travel to Africa to observe wild animals. I still haven't been to Africa.

5. What is your motto?

  • "Es gibt nichts Gutes, ausser man tut es." -- Erich Kaestner (translates roughly to "Actions speak louder than words." but sounds way more poetic.)


Thanks, Leonie, for all your wonderful work and commitment!


From grassroots movement to registered charity

posted 26 Mar 2017, 10:34 by Leonie Anna Mueck

How exciting: Without forgetting our roots, CRRC is continuing to grow and therefore we are currently applying to become registered as a charity. This means CRRC will move from the present structure as Unincorporated Association (UA) to becoming a CIO (Charitable Incorporated Association).

 

Once the Charity Commission will have accepted the application, we will hold an ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING (AGM) to which all our volunteers will be invited.

 

On the agenda of the AGM will be

·         An update of the work CRRC has done over the last year

·         We will present current and planned future work

·         Our accounts of the financial year will be made available

and

·         We will ask our members to vote on winding-up the 'Unincorporated Association' to allow transformation of CRRC into the CIO.

 

AND we want to use this event also to CELEBRATE with you, our fantastic volunteers and supporters, the great success of CRRC so far!

 

You will receive an updated invitation with the exact date and agenda closer to the date (most likely in June or July 2017).

Amnesty Talks: Refugee Tales – Conversation and Film

posted 23 Mar 2017, 07:07 by Tony King


27 March at 19:00–21:00  Babylon Gallery Waterside, CB7 4AU Ely, Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom.

Both based in Cambridge, Ali Smith is an award-winning Scottish writer and Sarah Wood is an artist filmmaker. They will talk about the Refugee Tales project which tells the moving accounts of asylum seekers, refugees, detainees, and those who work with them.

We will also be showing Sarah’s 20 minute film Boat People, winner of the 2016 Whitstable Biennale’s Open Submission competition.

Free admission.


A future for the Dubs scheme?

posted 2 Mar 2017, 00:56 by Leonie Anna Mueck

On 8th February, the government announced that only a further 150 refugee children will be admitted to the UK under the Dubs amendment, bringing the total to a disappointing 350. We believe this doesn't have to be the end of the Dubs scheme - the amendment remains in legislation and does not contain a time limit, although the political commitment is thin on the ground and there is no talk of bringing in more refugee children.  

At CRRC, we have put pressure on the government to continue bringing in vulnerable children, and we're spreading awareness among the public so that individuals can also have their say.

1. We wrote an open letter to the people of Cambridge, which was published in the Cambridge News on Thursday, 16th February. We urged Cambridgeshire residents to write to their Councillors and MPs, asking for the Home Secretary to reverse the decision.

2. We co-signed an open letter to Amber Rudd in which we urge the Home Secretary to take in more unaccompanied refugee children from European camps.

3. On 12th February, CRRC's Adrian Matthews appeared on the BBC Cambridgeshire. Adrian spoke about the importance of keeping the Dubs scheme going, and cleared up some of the misconceptions about refugee children - listen here (the link expires on 12th March 2017).

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04qls81

4. We asked Cambridge MP, Daniel Zeichner, to participate in the Parliamentary debate on the future of the Dubs scheme, which took place on 23rd February. We urged him to support the call for the government to regularly re-consult with local authorities to see whether they can make more 'Dubs' places available and to continue transferring vulnerable children to the UK.

5. We wrote to the Cambridgeshire County Council leader, Councillor Steve Count, and asked him to publicly state Cambridgeshire's commitment to accepting refugee children. We hope it would encourage members of the public to pledge their support, thus increasing the authority's capacity for bringing in more children because. We have also asked the Councillor to review the number of children that the Council has committed to accepting.

If you want to make sure the UK keeps its promises to vulnerable refugee children, there are things you can do right now:

https://sites.google.com/site/cambridgerefugees/events/waystosupportunaccompaniedrefugeeminorslivingincambridge

Five questions about becoming a landlord to refugees

posted 25 Feb 2017, 04:27 by Leonie Anna Mueck

1) Why is CRRC looking for landlords for refugees? Can’t refugees just rent houses like anyone else?

CRRC and Cambridge City Council are looking for housing for refugees to be brought to the UK  under the Vulnerable Person’s Resettlement Programme. Under this programme, the UK government has committed to resettling 20, 000 Syrians over 5 years. Cambridge City Council has voluntarily agreed to giving a home to 100 of them. These refugees are currently in UNHCR refugee camps in the Middle East and cannot be brought to the UK until suitable housing is secured.

 

2) Where are you looking for houses?

All over the Cambridge City Council area. The city council has also reached an agreement with South Cambridgeshire and East Cambridgeshire councils, whereby if a suitable property is available in these council areas, it could be rented back to Cambridge City Council in order to house refugees. However, all properties should be in reasonably easy reach from Cambridge.

 

3) What is a ‘suitable’ property? Are there special requirements for housing for refugees?

Cambridge City Council has mostly resettled nuclear families, so has been interested in houses with two or three  bedrooms. All housing must be self-contained. That excludes spare rooms but apartments are suitable, as long as they have a separate entrance.

Housing will have to meet certain council codes regarding fire safety and other health and safety concerns. The council and CRRC will be able to assist landlords in getting their properties up to code.

The property should be available for at least 14 months, ideally longer, to give the families stability.

Finally, some properties in rural South or East Cambridgeshire will be unsuitable. Refugees need easy access to infrastructure and amenities such as public transport and language courses, as well as translators and support networks.

 

4) Will I be paid for my property?

Yes, you will be paid rent that is equivalent to the local council Housing Allowance. Rates depend on the size of your house. You can calculate the rates you could expect here: https://lha-direct.voa.gov.uk/search.aspx

 

5) What are the benefits?

You will have a guaranteed rent from the council for the length of the refugees’ stay. Your rent will be paid by the council, making it a secure income.

You will be supporting a family in desperate need and providing them with a safe haven. Housing is the absolute bottleneck for bringing refugees to Cambridge which means that your kind offer will make the most important difference for giving sanctuary to a Syrian family.

Our landlords say that knowing they are providing this gift to a family is ‘everything’ to them.

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