The story so far...
On Tuesday 22 March we held a Public Meeting in Great Hormead village hall. It was very well attended and Revd James Sawyer was able to bring everyone up to speed with the various initiatives. Attendees completed a contact form which you can download here
What has already been achieved
We are aware of five local places offering accommodation. We have further numerous offers of transport and other aspects of hospitality.
David and Rosey Woollcombe and Mike and Annie Johnson have, through their own contacts, arranged for a family to come to the UK to stay with them. They are coming back with Concillor Jeff Jones who has taken a convoy of aid to Poland. The family are expected in the UK by the end of March.
As has been highlighted on the national news, the Visa application process for refugees is complex and the hospitality programme is made almost impossible if the host does not know the family it is sponsoring in advance. This is something we are trying to overcome through our own network of contacts. St Albans Diocese, through its Chaplaincy at Luton Airport knows of families who have arrived without anywhere to stay. We may be able to help some of them them. We also have a potential link to a team who are currently in Poland delivering aid who are identifying families in need of help, wishing to come to the UK.
Immediate action volunteers can take
All volunteers can prepare themselves by undertaking 'Basic Awarenes' safeguarding training. It's free to do and available online as part of the Church of England Safeguarding resources. It takes about an hour to complete and after a short test, a certificate is emailed to you which you can send on to us as a record of training completed. SEE HERE FOR HELP TO ACCESS SITE
Hosts will be offered the necessary DBS checks. It should be noted that a DBS is required for all residents of a host household who are 16 or over. We hope that everyone understands that this is being done to ensure the highest standards of safeguarding of vulnerable children and adults and we hope this isnt a bar to the generous offers of hospitality. Hosts need to read the additional guidance HERE
Following a collection of aid in and around Buntingford, items of bedding which was not required for the aid convoy has been set aside for those needing accommodation locally. We are not collecting produce just yet until we know exactly what the families will need. However, Westmill church is acting as a collecting point for those who wish to find out more about sending aid to Europe. However, please note that the people of other European nations are doing the same and it's important that the right kind of aid is sent.
We do need financial support to help cover the costs of administration (DBS checks etc) and to help support families immediate needs when they arrive. While aid to those in need in Ukraine itself can be supported via the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) fundraising initiative, the St Albans Diocese fund for refugees will help finance our local projects. So if you are able, please send your donation to that fund. Any excess will automatically be relayed to the DEC collection.