In Bradford we have made strong links with BIASAN (Bradford Immigration and Asylum Support Network), and have been able to support requests that come specifically from refugees. As well as donations of clothing, shoes, children’s toys and general kitchen equipment, we have been able to source white goods such as microwaves, food mixers, kettles, toasters and irons. Always in short supply are duvets and saucepans. We have made connections with some charity shops in York who let us know when large pans and sets of crockery come in. With donations from supporters we then buy these and transport them to Bradford. BIASAN volunteers contact us every week with specific requests which we try to source from our network of friends and supporters. Volunteers from York City of Sanctuary drive to Bradford every fortnight with car loads of requested equipment. As new families arrive in Bradford all the time, the need for such essentials will continue.
We also support BIASAN activities by providing materials for their arts and crafts group for refugees, assisting in their large English language classes and supporting their annual trip to the seaside.
Another request from Bradford refugees was to provide respite breaks in York. With the help of York City of Sanctuary trained hosts, befrienders and supporters, we had a wonderful weekend in October 2016 when 14 Bradford refugees (from Syria, Cameroon, Iran and Albania) stayed in hosts’ homes and enjoyed visits to York Minster, York Castle Museum and York City Art Gallery. The highlight was a social evening when 3 musical groups (Chechelele, Foxy Folk and a scratch group of jazz musicians) entertained us with singing and dancing. This was also attended by the Syrian refugee families living in York who were able to extend their networks both in York and Bradford. A number of relationships between hosts and guests have continued.
We are currently trying to source a computer for one of our guests, who was reenergised by his visit to York (he’s very isolated in Bradford), and wants to continue his studies.
We are also desperate for storage space to house and sort donations before they are delivered to our partner groups in Bradford (and Middlesborough.)