You can now download (2.6 MB PDF file) our full annual report for the year to June 2022 or just read some of what we were up to below.
This is CRRC’s fifth report as a CIO, during which it was governed by between eight to 11 charity trustees at given times.
In July 2021, Dan Ellis, CRRC’s chair of many years and instrumental to many of CRRC’s successes, suffered a very serious cancer diagnosis and subsequently had to step back as chair. The team were delighted and very grateful that Dan has been able to continue to be active as a trustee. Ann Goodridge took over as chair. Amy Ellis, Dan’s wife, who had very actively been involved as a CRRC volunteer already, was welcomed as a trustee in October 2021.
Marya Kakai resigned as a trustee in January 2022 and was very gratefully thanked for her contribution. To our delight, she has continued as a CRRC volunteer.
The constitution provides for a minimum of five and a maximum of 12 trustees. Being a Foundation CIO, the only voting members are its trustees. Trustees are appointed for a term of three years by a resolution passed at a properly convened meeting of the charity trustees. New trustees can be appointed by existing trustees. Any charity trustee is eligible for reappointment and can serve for three consecutive terms. Trustees commit to giving their time and expertise freely. No trustee remuneration was paid during this period.
All relevant interests must be disclosed by trustees and registered with the other trustees. In accordance with the charity’s best practice, a trustee must withdraw from decisions where a conflict of interest arises. There were no such conflicts of interests or decision withdrawals in this period.
During the reporting period, Trustees met at least bi-monthly in video or hybrid meetings. Each meeting was chaired and minuted. Quorum for trustee meetings is two charity trustees or the number nearest to one third of the total number of charity trustees, whichever is greater. Actions, approvals, charity progress, accounts, and any other business are reviewed in each meeting. Between meetings, trustees communicate using email and WhatsApp. The trustees review the broad strategy and areas of activity for the charity on a yearly basis.
CRRC could not carry out its work without the tremendous contributions from its many volunteers and supporters. CRRC works in a collaborative manner, recognising that the nature of a volunteer-led group requires flexibility, whilst ensuring that it fulfils tasks that it commits to within given time frames to achieve its objectives. The organisation actively seeks and values volunteers from diverse backgrounds, life experiences and perspectives.
There has been a high level of ongoing engagement from potential volunteers getting in touch with CRRC to express their interest in being involved, suggesting that the operational model is effective.
Between July 2021 and June 2022, 77 new volunteers have joined CRRC to take up a range of roles. The team has completed basic and enhanced DBS checks for these volunteers, in line with UK Government requirements and according to their role. At the end of the financial year, CRRC had over 150 active volunteers, as well as 165 excellent applicants waiting for potential opportunities. The huge number of volunteer hours provided, and level of enthusiasm and dedication shown by our volunteers form a vital part of the CRRC community.
Our heartfelt thanks to all volunteers and supporters of CRRC for their commitment and tremendous contributions to CRRC’s work!
Regular monthly volunteer social gatherings for existing volunteers, continued in 2021-22 and restarted as in-person meetings again following the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions These sessions allowed volunteers to exchange thoughts and ideas, and to introduce new prospective volunteers to understand their potential role prior to signing up.
CRRC accepts referrals from refugees themselves or from other individuals, organisations or authorities, and considers whether assistance sought is consistent with the organisation’s mandate and scope. Decisions on providing assistance are made at quorate meetings of the trustees or as otherwise permitted by the constitution. The trustees have regular meetings, where decisions are tabled at an open discussion. There is also the opportunity for suggestions to be submitted within our online group forum. Once decisions have been submitted, the trustees discuss and then vote for the preferred option. The trustees discuss and adapt to changing local and national circumstances and the needs of the beneficiaries.
Cambridge Refugee Resettlement Campaign (CRRC) is constituted for the following purposes:
To promote any charitable purpose for the benefit of persons who have become displaced persons or refugees from the countries of their origin or domicile by reason of hostilities, persecution, oppression, discrimination, natural disasters or other like causes, including through the relief of poverty, the advancement of education and training, and the promotion of good citizenship.
To advance the education of the public in general about issues relating to persons who have become displaced persons or refugees from the countries of their origin or domicile by reason of hostilities, persecution, oppression, discrimination, natural disasters or other like causes.
CRRC provides a range of practical support to refugees and liaises with local stakeholders. CRRC works closely with county councils, district councils, city councils, local charities, and other organisations that support and campaign around refugee issues and enables the people of Cambridgeshire to volunteer to support refugees.
In setting CRRC’s objectives and planning our activities, the trustees have given due consideration to the Charity Commission’s general guidance on public benefit: By supporting and promoting the welfare and inclusion of all refugees predominantly in Cambridge and Cambridgeshire, there is a public benefit to refugees, the local communities and stakeholders in creating a welcoming and safe environment for refugees.
CRRC achieves this by providing a range of practical support (including providing welcome packs and household necessities to refugees), organising social events for the refugees, CRRC volunteers and the local communities, and securing and preparing accommodation.
By supporting refugees to adapt to their new environment, the local communities benefit from refugees’ contributions and involvement in the local community, whether by way of employment or social cohesion etc. In addition to the examples provided above, CRRC assists refugees to develop employability skills and works with local employers to identify appropriate opportunities.
By providing practical support to local authorities in accommodating refugees, both benefit from CRRC’s assistance in overcoming logistical and economic challenges (among others) that can be experienced in the process of settling in. CRRC provides this assistance by, as mentioned above, securing accommodation for refugees and fostering opportunities and other forms of support for unaccompanied refugee children.
By publicising and celebrating the contribution of refugees to local communities, UK society and culture, refugees, local communities and the public at large benefit from embracing diversity, and challenging hostility and discrimination in society. CRRC achieves this by organising social, advocacy and fundraising events for refugees, local communities and volunteers. These activities help inform faith-based organisations, and community groups and other advocacy bodies on the plight of refugees and their contributions to UK society.
In 2021-2022, the trustees have considered the major risks to which the charity was exposed, have reviewed, and monitored them and put in place mitigation steps. The main risks that trustees identified during this period were:
The hardship faced by CRRC’s beneficiaries have been exacerbated by changes to the benefits system, the general cost of living crisis in the UK and misunderstandings about their responsibilities as benefits claimants.
Some beneficiaries have suffered from hostility toward refugees or to their religion in their locality. The lasting impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has posed multiple challenges to our beneficiaries and has put pressure (in terms of time, commitment, and opportunity for face-to-face contact) on beneficiaries and volunteers working closely with the families. The organisation has worked to mitigate the impact of these challenges by assisting families and signposting them to relevant information and practical support. Where necessary, the organisation has provided emergency in-kind and financial support and encouraged our beneficiaries and volunteers to adjust to changes by taking advice early.
The ability to continue CRRC’s work relies on monetary donations and donations in kind from groups and individuals. The organisation encourages charitable giving from the local community through social media, fundraising events, and general promotion activities. Where appropriate, GiftAid for donations (when from individuals) is collected. In the event of a significant donation (over £10,000), CRRC will request the individuals’/companies’ address details and undertake due diligence checks to satisfy the trustees as to the source of the donations and ensure that the prospective gift is aligned with the charity’s objectives. Most payments are by cash, cheque or bank transfer. There have been no concerns to date in relation to public donations, and a full income and expenditure database has been maintained. Donors’ names are acknowledged in our external communications and accounts with the consent of the donor.
CRRC carries out risk assessments for all activities to ensure that risks are understood, and policies and procedures are then put in place to mitigate these. CRRC has continued to review and update policies and procedures around some key risk areas including safeguarding and Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks.
CRRC’s activities in the year July 2021 to June 2022. (Some adjustments were required to the in-person activities during the Covid-19 pandemic.)
By the end of the previous reporting period (June 2021), CRRC had supported 25 families being resettled under the UK Government’s VPRS scheme in addition to a further 8 individuals or families arriving via other routes some of whom were asylum seekers. Government resettlement under VPRS ceased from March 2020 for the duration of the pandemic and its successor scheme, UKRS, has only partially been opened. Within the current reporting period, CRRC welcomed only one further VPRS family (in July 2021 as lockdown restrictions ended) - a ‘residual’ family originally from Sudan who had been due to be resettled before the pandemic arrived.
On 15 August 2021, Kabul fell to the Taliban, leading to the exodus of many Afghan families to the UK, many of whom had worked directly or indirectly with the British military forces in Afghanistan or at the British Embassy there or were linked to the political opposition. Others were British citizens of Afghan descent who had a right to bring their immediate family to the UK.
By the end of June 2022 across Cambridgeshire, 14 new Afghan families had been resettled, some in Cambridge City or South Cambridgeshire and some in the Huntingdon District Council area of the county. The relative distance from Cambridge of the ‘Huntingdon’ group of beneficiary families meant that new partnership working was developed with local groups in the north of the county to support these new arrivals.
In October 2021, three Afghan families were re-housed in ‘in former MOD accommodation near Huntingdon’. They had all been evacuated from Kabul under the ARAP scheme. Two more Afghan families were resettled in January and March 2022, via ARAP. In February 2022, Huntingdon District Council (HDC) re-housed two Afghan families in Housing Association homes on the outskirts of the town. By June 2022, there were seven families in the area (a total of 41 people).
From the time of the first arrivals, CRRC worked closely with a local community group, Brampton Hub, to help the families resettle, providing welcome packs, clothing, household items, laptops, and TVs etc. They were assisted with school and GP registration and job seeking requirements and familiarised with the local area (including shops and the library). With CRRC support, outings were arranged (including one to London in March) and a weekly English Conversation Group was set up for the women in a Methodist Church (venue provided free of charge). With the two Huntingdon families, the resettlement support was provided almost entirely by CRRC. For all families, CRRC has worked closely with the Peterborough Asylum and Refugee Community Association (PARCA) on issues related to training, employment, and English lessons. The group also attended council-funded English lessons at the Huntingdon library. Although all the men had been translators with the British Army and/or worked in the British Embassy in Kabul, in most cases their English was not good enough to seek work in the sectors they had worked in (e.g., pharmacy, firefighting, administration, business), so this will be a focus of future CRRC support. In five of the families, CRRC funded driving lessons for beneficiaries.
Some of the children in the three Afghan families who arrived in Brampton in September/October 2021 expressed interest in having a Christmas tree. What did the parents think? Might this go against religious beliefs? Not a bit of it, said all the parents. So, we (CRRC and a volunteer from the Brampton Hub community group) went to the local garden centre to ask if they would donate some small Christmas trees. How many, they asked. Three? Sure. We went back to collect the trees a week later. And there they were - not small at all, and each of them not only with their own tree stand but also with box of decorations! Dressed in Father Christmas hats and singing carols we duly delivered the trees, and they made a splendid addition to the families’ first Christmas in the UK.
With Brampton Hub help, as well as the local Anglican church, CRRC arranged a cultural awareness talk for all volunteers in the area working with the newly arrived refugee families.
By the time of the talk - on 26 February 2021 – there were seven families in the Huntingdon/Brampton area. The talk was given by a volunteer with PARCA whose family came from the Hazara community in Afghanistan. We also asked two of the men in the families if they would give a short talk. One spoke of his journey here after the fall of Kabul – a harrowing experience that included being flown out with a two-day-old baby. The other spoke about his experiences since arriving in the UK, from a hotel in Milton Keynes to a house in Brampton , the difficulties of adjustment, the relief of seeing his family in a safe place and the gratitude for what had been provided to help them settle.
The audience learned a great deal, not least on the etiquette front. It is, for example, just not on to visit an Afghan house without drinking copious amount of chai or green tea, accompanied by nuts, cakes and sweets, whatever the time of day – there has, as a result, been a noticeable expansion of volunteers’ waistlines.
Overall, by mid-2022, these families were all settling in well, with one family experiencing great challenges. A persistent rodent infestation in one of the Huntingdon houses caused the family considerable distress and they requested to be re-housed but, backed by HDC, CRRC worked with the relevant housing association to resolve the problem and the family was able to start settling down. With no exceptions, the families are all very keen to re-build their lives in the UK.
In addition to continuing support to families that had arrived through VPRS and beginning to support those arriving under the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP), CRRC began to see an increase in referrals for help or assistance from other local organisations. These organisations included the single homelessness service, Refugee Education UK, and the BACA charity which works with unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and care leavers. These beneficiaries came from a wide range of countries including Ethiopia, Palestine, Yemen, and Libya – the referrals from Refugee Education UK and BACA were unaccompanied children or care leavers.
In addition, from March 2022, CRRC began to see the arrival of Ukrainian families fleeing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (see below for CRRC’s response).
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, significant numbers of Ukrainians fled the country. The refugees were mainly women, children, and older people with most men of working age remaining to join the Ukraine Army. On 4 March 2022, the UK Government launched the Ukraine Extended Family Scheme allowing Ukrainians who had family members settled in the UK to join them. There was no requirement for the UK-based family member to accommodate their relatives in their home and, where they could not do so, the housing duty fell to the Local Authority in which the sponsoring family member lived. This meant there was a need to find accommodation for some families arriving under this scheme.
Under public pressure to do more, the Homes for Ukraine scheme was announced on 14 March 2022 allowing UK residents to host Ukrainian families in their own homes. Both schemes were to be operated through local authorities. UK residents offering to host Ukrainian ‘guests’ needed to register their interest on a government website and arrange a match with a Ukrainian family seeking safety in the UK.
Following the launch of the scheme, CRRC started to receive enquiries from people wishing to host Ukrainian refugee families and from Ukrainians seeking to come to the Cambridge area. The team advised both potential hosts and guests how they could sign up for this scheme through the government website, and then find trusted matching brokers through a safe list of organisations that CRRC knew provided a matching service.
Between July 2021 and June 2022, the family support team grew from four core members to five, with one member stepping back and two new members joining the team, one as administrative support, and one to oversee the newly arrived Afghan families in and around Huntingdon.
Over the year the team of recruited volunteer focal points expanded significantly from 17 active focal points to 36 with a total of 26 new recruits joining CRRC and 7 focal points leaving. The reasons for people leaving were that the recipient family had moved location, or the focal points were relocating themselves. Members of the core family support team are involved in recruitment of volunteers, and they work alongside the administration team to ensure that interviews are carried out and that DBS processes are begun and completed.
In May 2022, a focal point training event was held with Syrian food provided by one of the CRRC beneficiaries who runs a professional catering service. There were 35 attendees with stimulating talks by existing focal points and a presentation on energy company grants and reductions.
Of the 36 active focal points, 13 individuals oversee individual families, one oversees several Arabic-speaking families, (this person is a core member of the family support team) 8 focal points work in pairs, 9 focal points work in teams of 3 and four focal points form one team of four. Teams are necessary where the needs of the recipient family remain high, usually due to considerable emotional and/or physical challenges. Five focal point teams include a native Arabic speaker, often where the recipient family is either illiterate or finds learning English especially hard.
Focal points all provide practical and emotional support to their recipient families and relay relevant information or requests through the family support group. Focal points are asked to submit a summary of their actions at the end of each month. Requests are then either dealt with directly by family support team members (Doula support, transport assistance, translation assistance, indefinite-leave-to-remain support, benefit support, housing support) or passed onto the relevant specialised team, be it donations, IT, gardening, DIY, bikes, driving, education, Cambridge Ethnic Community Forum (CECF) and Cambridge Advisory Bureau (CAB).
In addition to new focal points, this year additional key volunteers were recruited to carry out the day-to-day work of the family support group and CRRC. This included a new donations coordinator, donations garage organiser, a new DIY team and a new IT coordinator. A new CRRC Team Ukraine was established to meet the needs of new beneficiaries from Ukraine.
Focal points often assist with health and welfare concerns of recipient families. CRRC provided welcome packs of food supplies and bedding for the new tranche of Afghan families arriving. Focal points liaised with families and helped them purchase school uniforms for the children as well as new shoes, school bags and PE kits.
Focal points have helped several families deal with serious medical needs and disabilities, including help with PIP payments. Volunteers have driven many recipients to hospitals and medical appointments, sometimes at considerable distance from Cambridge, to undergo necessary medical procedures.
Core members of the family support team participated in child safeguarding meetings alongside assigned social and family workers to support a vulnerable family. Another family received practical and legal support and advice on how to navigate housing and legal status within the UK. An art therapist employed by the Refugee Council run regular well-being art sessions for some vulnerable families.
CRRC provides emergency hardship grants to local refugees who experience severe hardship or an emergency. This type of support is intended as a short-term solution rather than a long-term financial commitment. The application process for a hardship grant is overseen by the trustees and follows the emergency hardship grant policy. One emergency hardship grant was provided in the reporting period for a newly arrived Afghan family whose benefits had been delayed.
CRRC acts as a distributor of vouchers for the Cambridge Food Bank for beneficiaries in especially difficult circumstances. A designated volunteer was recruited from May 2022 to issue online food bank vouchers and CRRC has issued nine vouchers from May to June 2022. The One Hope Foundation provided emergency food packages to 10 families struggling with the cost of living.
In response to messages of concern from families and focal points, a volunteer was recruited to create documents on household energy usage and grants available to assist with increasing costs. These were translated by volunteers into Arabic and Farsi. Focal points helped families apply for financial assistance if they were relevant. Further informational material provided was on ways of identifying and acting upon domestic violence for those experiencing domestic violence. One of the translators who assisted CRRC is an Afghan refugee recently resettled into the UK.
This year has seen the safe arrival of four babies to CRRC families. Two women received support from a doula through an access fund, a charity, which was arranged through the focal points and the family support team. CRRC gives a grant of £200 per child to help the parents buy necessary items.
This year, a new donations coordinator and garage coordinator were recruited to supervise and sort the garage where donations are stored. In one month, they provided: mirrors, toys, books, vacuum cleaners, buggies, bunk beds, TVs, barstools, microwaves, clothes dryers, baby cots, sewing machines, sports equipment, trampolines, bedding, coat stands, CD players, wardrobe, blankets, white board, lampshades, coats, bikes, kids’ clothes, shoe racks.
We have received new handmade children’s quilts and purchased new mattress toppers for several families.
A team of three was recruited including one volunteer with a van which was very handy. From May 2022, the CRRC DIY team has helped with DIY jobs such as repairing doors, hanging up mirrors, TVs, and curtain rails. They have fixed broken drawers and wardrobes, installed a garden gate, repaired a bunk bed, and replaced a toilet seat.
During this period, the gardening group have visited and worked in the gardens of six recently arrived families from Afghanistan. After an initial visit and discussion with each family, basic gardening equipment was provided, according to need, and this typically included a push-mower, a spade, a watering-can and a trowel. Seedlings planted were generally plant potatoes, broad beans, climbing beans, tomatoes, courgettes, herbs and flowers but also specific requests such as strawberry plants for the children. Many of the families have been housed with large gardens needing electric mowers which were donated or bought from Cambridge Free-cycle. Most of the families helped the team in the garden. The team visited new Afghan families with their focal point volunteer near Huntingdon to advise on garden maintenance.
The team was offered raspberry plants, rhubarb, and a fig tree which a Sudanese family have planted in their vegetable patch in the back garden. All were thriving at last visit.
The team continued to help with the gardens of two families in the city. This has mostly involved mowing and clearing weeds plus providing seeds and seedlings. Although the aim is for all families to become independent gardeners, this is unlikely to happen while each of the parents have many other family challenges to manage. The team were fortunate that all the volunteers are experienced and knowledgeable gardeners who have been prepared to turn up and work on a regular basis.
Access to Information Technology (IT) such as laptops and phones is vital for adult beneficiaries to communicate with friends and family, to engage with learning providers and to access banking, government, council, children’s schools and other services. Additionally, secondary school-age children need IT for online learning and other school services/notifications - as well as for contacting friends and family. A CRRC volunteer acts as IT coordinator to oversee the process.
In May 2022, CRRC surveyed beneficiaries to assess their IT needs. At the same time, CRRC began working with Laptops4Learning (L4L), a local provider of recycled IT equipment. CRRC also ran a campaign to collect donations of second-hand laptops and smartphones donated at drop points in 3 local pubs. Via a mix of these, plus some purchased second-hand equipment, around 25 Windows laptops and tablets were provided to beneficiaries.
The team was also able to offer some limited repairs to IT equipment and user support, with the aim of getting our beneficiaries back online wherever possible.
Our prior experience of working with refugee families alerted the team to the importance of having access to a device for basic resettlement tasks. These tasks include opening bank accounts, signing up for benefits, registering with a GP, enrolling children in schools, seeking work, learning English, and communicating with friends and family back at home. In addition, with the Ukrainian arrivals, it quickly became apparent that children needed devices for accessing online education provided by their schools in Ukraine and for schoolwork in the UK once they had found a school place. The team had the ambitious target of aiming to provide for the IT needs of any Ukrainian family arriving in Cambridge City or South and East Cambridgeshire District Council areas.
To achieve this, the team partnered with the company L4L whose business model is to take surplus IT devices from companies who are replenishing their stock and recycle those devices for social good. In conjunction with L4L, the business community in and around Cambridge were engaged and the team was reasonably successful in obtaining laptops that could be refurbished and prepared ready for use with a Windows 10 operating system installed. Three pubs around Cambridge - The Haymakers, The Champion of the Thames, and the Blue Ball Inn - offered to be collection points for individuals wishing to donate surplus tech items.
These were then collected and passed on to L4L for refurbishment before being returned for distribution to arriving families. CRRC also registered with Vodafone to be distributors of the free SIM cards the company were offering for Ukrainians arriving in the UK. Through our established relationships with the Refugee Council, Vodafone also supplied 70 free mobile phone handsets at the end of June 2022.
In parallel with securing a supply of IT devices for distribution, CRRC set up a dedicated CRRC Team Ukraine to administer requests for devices from families and to deliver these, free of charge to their accommodation in the local authority where they were being hosted. To publicise the service, a request form was provided to the three district councils for advertising via their welcome packs and social media outreach. This service was launched on 27 April 2022 and by the end of June 2022, there had been over 200 requests from Ukrainian families asking for IT devices or SIM cards.
With demand for IT devices outstripping supply obtained through donations, by early June 2022 the team had to consider grant funding to purchase refurbished devices to supplement the donations. On 22 June 2022, CRRC received a grant of £10,000 from South Cambridgeshire District Council to provide laptops and tablets for Ukrainian families in their district being hosted under the Homes for Ukraine scheme. This was enormously helpful in enabling the team to deliver devices requested in a timely manner.
During July 2021 and June 2022, 28 contacts were received through the website regarding offers of and requests for refugee accommodation. From March 2022 onwards most of these related to the Ukrainians either seeking accommodation, or local people offering accommodation.
Of the 27 approaches, seven were direct queries about how to sponsor, or how to find a sponsor, through the Ukraine Family Scheme or through the Homes for Ukraine scheme. The team advised both hosts and guests how they could sign up for this scheme through the government website, and a safe list of organisations offering matching, identified by CRRC.
The other 20 approaches were offers or queries relating to providing a house, flat, annex or room in their own house for refugees. After discussion with the enquirer, 8 accommodation offers were referred on to our local councils, a neighbouring Local Authority area or the East of England Local Government Association. At least two of these resulted in a letting to re-settling refugees. The rest were referred on either to appropriate national organisations dealing with hosting or to other local authorities, and some decided not to pursue the query further for personal reasons. One house offer was linked up to a group considering a community sponsorship of a refugee family.
There is no doubt that the team have fulfilled a useful information-giving and signposting role and have assisted the City Council in filtering offers that have come through us, so that they only receive referrals that fit the necessary eligibility criteria such as being prepared to accept a rent based on local housing allowance rates.
Two of our younger beneficiaries who met through CRRC got married this year. The wedding was celebrated at the Friends Meeting House and was attended by three members of the Family support team and the families’ focal point. We look forward to another wedding of another recipient soon.
Two teenagers won a prestigious young entrepreneur award for an idea to help other newly arrived refugees settle into their new lives and received local media coverage in the press and on local TV.
The aim of CRRC ESOL for adults is to respond to the needs of those who cannot attend college classes, mainly because of childcare needs, poor health, and lack of literacy. Since the beginning, CRRC has provided a very professional, purely volunteer-led language support with Hilary Sutton and Monica Poulter being the organisers supported by a large team of volunteer ESOL teachers.
As lockdown came to an end and a more normal life felt possible, CRRC started to plan for a return to face-to face class teaching. It seemed the best way to meet the various needs would be to run workshop sessions where students could work at their own level and on skills they had identified as necessary for their future. CRRC reimbursed bus fares and paid the taxi fare for a student with mobility issues.
In September 2021, the team opened with some trepidation, with 11 students, five children, six volunteer teachers and two childcare workers all in one large meeting room. Windows were flung open, hand gel applied and advice on lateral flow tests issued. The ESOL workshop continued throughout the academic year to July 2022. Sixteen students attended during the year. Numbers varied as some students were able to move on. One left when he was offered more weekday hours at work after practising with his teacher how to use appropriate language to request extra hours from his supervisor. The volunteer teachers worked on topics as varied as giving name and address to discussion of a school’s sex education policy.
Two students passed the B1 Listening and Speaking test (required for their UK citizenship application) after dropping in to the workshop to practise with a teacher. Even if students could not attend regularly, they knew that the ever-resourceful teachers would always be available to help.
As Covid-19 restrictions eased, the team were able to respond again to requests for one-to-one teachers at home. Seven new matches were made in the Spring, ranging from an absolute beginner from Afghanistan to a beneficiary wanting to improve his communication skills as he set up his own business. In the new year of 2022, the team welcomed a small number of Afghan families who were resettling in Cambridge and the surrounding area. They were offered home teaching, support and advice as required, though the team was not able to find a teacher for every location. The team also delivered a training session for ESOL volunteers working with Afghan families in the Huntingdon area.
English conversation group for woman in Brampton and Huntingdon
With a room of our own in the Brampton Methodist Church Hall, strong support from CRRC English tutors Monica and Hilary and two boxes of English/Farsi picture dictionaries donated by Oxford University Press, the English Conversation Group began its weekly meetings in April 2022. It is intentionally social, a time for women refugees in the area – both Afghan and Ukrainian – to meet, chat and learn in a relaxed atmosphere. The two-hour sessions were run by volunteers drawn from CRRC and the Brampton Hub, led by Claire Senior, a former headmistress and English teacher. The activities ranged from speaking, reading, writing, role play and games to advice on online learning, library access, and out-of-classroom sessions to build up their knowledge of the local area. Among the many resources CRRC has provided are whiteboards, which have proved very popular with the beneficiaries.
Towards the end of the reporting period, the team became aware of an increasing number of Ukrainian refugees settling in the area. The team contacted Cambridge4Ukraine who were ready to offer support as required within CRRC’s capacity.
Thanks are due to the team of volunteer teachers who have offered their time and expertise through another challenging year and to the team of childcare workers who made it possible for parents to concentrate on their learning.
For the future, the team will try to respond to the ever-widening needs of students, from catch-up for those who missed two years of lessons during lockdown to new arrivals, support for those with overseas qualifications and help with language requirements for citizenship. Many students also need more opportunities to use English language outside the classroom. One volunteer teacher introduced an Afghan beneficiary to the local mother and baby group. This is the kind of engagement that the team hopes to encourage in the future. Furthermore, with ever-increasing requests for language support, CRRC needs to recruit more volunteers as the local colleges are unable to meet demand.
Nearly all school-age children from CRRC’s beneficiaries have been enrolled in the one-to-one tuition programme provided by the CRRC children’s tuition team. Some pre-school children also have had support from tutors. CRRC volunteers were matched with the families and normally met the children once a week. The aim of this support is to help the children to develop language skills, encourage conceptual understanding, increase knowledge of their cultural community, and to build their confidence and self-esteem. Many of the CRRC children’s tuition volunteers have been qualified teachers or postgraduate students at Cambridge University. The volunteers had the opportunity to meet once a month before the socials, to exchange ideas, resources and concerns.
The one-to-one teachers supporting school-age children often also have helped with liaising with the children’s school so that the child was supported in following the curriculum at the appropriate level. Several of the one-to-one tutors have become close friends with the children and the entire family and have engaged with many different aspects of family life over time.
Since July 2021, 35 tutors have supported the children of the families. Recruitment has been robust thanks to our administration team who have streamlined the recruitment process. Reporting was also efficient due to the recruitment of an administrative volunteer. The organisation Refugee Education also provided four mentors to help with the service.
CRRC commissioned further Arabic classes, and Saussan Khalil, who teaches the classes, reported that, despite the challenges of online learning, six of the 12 children enrolled attended the online sessions regularly and made good progress. Between September 2021 and April 2022, Kalamna Arabic classes were still being held exclusively online due to the continuing Covid-19 restrictions. Four students were enrolled in the classes. In May 2022, in-person classes returned and subsequently had four returning students join who had attended the in-person classes pre-pandemic, as well as two new students.
In May 2022, the team recruited a volunteer to help recipients with getting prepared for employment. Three people were assisted with CV writing and job applications. CRRC also made connections with PARCA who help with CV writing advice. Several recipients together started a catering business and members of the core team offered feedback on their menu and pricing scale. Where possible, the team tried to support the catering businesses and commission their culinary skills for social and training events.
Amanda, the enthusiastic bike coordinator of CRRC, continued to work in part with The Bike Project in London to provide each beneficiary of CRRC, both adult and child, with a working bike, plus helmet, lights and a secure lock. Bike training could be restarted after pandemic related restrictions with several women taking part in The Bike Project’s ‘Pedal Power’. This fantastic programme provides refugee women with 1-1 cycle lessons with female instructors.
CRRC Trustees consider that it is of significant benefit to our beneficiaries if they could drive in the UK. Being able to drive could assist directly or indirectly with employment, as well as help individuals and their families enjoy a better quality of life and move more swiftly towards independence.
The UK driving test is in two parts – a theory test and a practical test. CRRC does not pay for the theory test, the driving test or the provisional driving licence. Its support focuses on paying for driving lessons. All CRRC beneficiaries applying for funding to help pay for their lessons must have passed the theory test and hold a provisional licence.
For those who have driven in their home country, CRRC offers to pay for 10 hours of driving lessons. For those who have not, CRRC pays for 20 hours of lessons. In the 2021-22 financial year, 8 beneficiaries received funding towards payment for their driving lessons, including two women.
CRRC’s driving policy is scheduled to undergo a major review in late 2022, not least because the number of beneficiaries requesting funding has greatly increased, reflecting the arrival of many Afghan families in the wake of the Taliban take-over in August 2021. This has put a strain on financial resources and highlighted the need to increase the budget for this item, alongside putting updated application criteria in place.
A big thank you to everyone involved in the activities team this year. It was great to see just how many families got involved and how much they enjoyed the activities that were organised.
With a dynamic and efficient new activities team and funding from Cambridgeshire Community Foundation, the summer holiday programme 2021 got off to a successful start with a day trip to Hunstanton with 70 family members and 8 volunteers in two coaches who spent a glorious day on the beach.
The programme continued with an afternoon of ten pin bowling at the Cambridge Leisure Centre. The Coton Village Fair on Bank Holiday Monday offered the opportunity for some bargain-hunting on the bric-a-brac stalls, as well as a picnic and a game of cricket on the recreation ground.
About 50 people attended the picnic and the team were very pleased that our newest arrivals came to both the bowling and the picnic. The team was also delighted to be able to introduce a representative, Gareth, from Cambridgeshire Community Foundation to CRRC’s work and beneficiaries.
We are very grateful to CCF for facilitating our holiday and after-school activities for three years with grant-funding.
The colder weather and rising numbers of Covid-19 cases meant socials had to be paused again and that any indoor activities required very careful planning. Fortunately, the North Pole ice rink and funfair on Parkers Piece was back and was very popular with ice skating for over 20 skaters of all ages, rides and food in the lead up to Christmas.
The beginning of 2022 saw the team take everyone bowling again because it was just that popular! And finally, a trip to Wimpole Estate in May went down well with a big group of families thanks to the generous staff at the National Trust.
The trip to London was wonderful. We were able to see the most attractive and tourism places for the first time. It was fun and we had a great time. Many thanks, CRRC! Naeem, CRRC beneficiary
In March 2022, the families from Afghanistan who had recently been resettled in Brampton and Huntingdon and supporting volunteers went on an excursion to London. The group alighted at the London Eye carrying picnics and cameras, walked across Westminster Bridge to Parliament Square, up the Mall for a picnic in St James Park, and then on to Trafalgar Square and, via coach, past various landmarks.
CRRC has been running socials since December 2015 when the team welcomed the first three beneficiary families. The socials provide the face-to-face contact on which CRRC prides itself, involving the whole community, whilst offering private meeting space for confidential conversations. As the number of beneficiaries and volunteers has grown, the socials have grown. They are now held at a large primary school in Cambridge and organised by a small team of volunteers with regular liaison with the board of Trustees. The team is made up of a small, committed team of volunteers on the organising committee liaising via WhatsApp and email to organise the monthly socials. This greatly eased the workload of organising and increased the pool of expertise and interests.
Due to Covid-19, the team did not start the socials again until September 2021. The team’s main concern was how to continue to run the socials and remain safe. Socials had to be organised outside using the schools outside space and the playing field. Two local chefs (who were refugees themselves) were hired to cater for the first socials since lockdown 2020. They brought a variety of delicious food and over 20 volunteers helped with the arranging of tables, serving food, kitchen, and children’s games.
For the October social, the team was lucky to have warm weather to be able to remain outside. Socials closed for the winter and resumed after Ramadan in May and June 2022 with both inside and outdoors activities. New families from Afghanistan who arrived in Cambridgeshire during the spring joined the schedule of socials. A range of activities were undertaken including crafts and football.
In response to the arrival of newer arrived families from Afghanistan, an additional social was organised in a new venue on Marmalade Lane. It allowed some of the families to meet each other as well as some of the core team members.
CRRC gratefully thanks all volunteers of the socials team!
CRRC continued to offer support to one asylum-seeking family who were entering into their third year waiting for a decision from the Home Office. Their first interview failing, the family were supported with the appeal process and are hopeful that it will be completed in 2023.
As a result of events in Afghanistan and Ukraine, refugee issues have risen up the news agenda and trustees were interviewed on BBC Cambridgeshire’s morning news programme several times over the year. CRRC were also invited to give presentations to pupils at Cambourne and Comberton Village colleges to help students understand the challenges facing refugees even when they have reached a place of safety.
In the wake of the fall of Kabul and a huge surge of interest in volunteering, a public meeting of support groups was organised at the Friends Meeting House in September 2021 to explain to potential new volunteers what local organisations do and how they could help.
Since the invasion of Ukraine, CRRC has been collating information on hosting refugees, donating and finding help on arrival, which is available on the website. The team has also been liaising with other groups and attended a networking meeting for refugee support groups hosted by CamCRAG and Dr Julian Huppert at Jesus College in April 2022.
Nationally, CRRC continued to campaign against the Nationality and Borders Bill with trustees speaking at a rally outside the Cambridge Guildhall in March, attending the Rwanda rally in June and sharing petitions on social media. Sadly, this punitive and unethical bill, which was opposed by the Church of England, the UNHCR, Liberty, the Law Society and hundreds of refugee organisations, passed into law in July 2022.
However, the Together with Refugees coalition campaign continued, particularly with regard to the treatment of unaccompanied minors and the Rwanda scheme.
The quarterly newsletter has gone out regularly to 470 subscribers, showcasing the amazing work of CRRC’s volunteers and the successes of our beneficiaries. The CRRC Facebook group has 1.5k members and Twitter feed has almost 1.2k followers. Over the year, CRRC’s website saw over 39,000 page views.
During this fifth year of operations, the budget has been reviewed during regular trustee meetings, ensuring that new expenditure is checked and authorised by the trustees. The Board of Trustees is responsible for ensuring that expenditure remains within agreed limits. The net receipts for the year were £3,473.
At 30 June 2022, CRRC’s free cash reserves were £57,650. The charity does not have a reserves policy. Trustees review spending regularly, adjust budgets as required, encourage donations within the local community and plan fundraising activities to ensure that ongoing and planned support of beneficiaries and all CRRC’s activities can be maintained.
CRRC’s work has adjusted and expanded over the course of the last year. We have been learning about the needs of more recently arriving refugees from Afghanistan and the Ukraine. We have extended important collaborations with local agencies and supporters to work towards CRRC’s overarching aim to promote supportive conditions for integration to enable refugees to achieve independence and settle harmoniously. Settling in a new country can be difficult and complex and CRRC’s goal is to provide newly arrived refugees with connections to people able to support them with these tasks.
CRRC will face major challenges related with the ongoing economic crisis and an increasing colder social climate. We plan to critically analyse the needs of beneficiaries and CRRC’s priorities over the course of the next financial year to strengthen our strategy. We want to ensure to be able to remain resilient, as an organisation, to sustainably provide critical services to refugees to facilitate achieving economic stability and becoming self-reliant. We will aim to further expand on the engagement of established refugee and diaspora communities. We are enthusiastic to continue to draw on the large number of volunteers in Cambridge and Cambridgeshire, committed to assist refugees to realise their potential and to contribute to the receiving society.