Epsom Refugee Camp

Epsom & Ewell Refugee Network

The team’s project with ERN had a significant impact on the refugees involved, additional to their enjoyment of the day.

Epsom & Ewell Refugee Network

Brief description (of the partner):

Epsom Refugee Network is an enthusiastic group of local people committed to the common goal of helping refugees and asylum seekers who find themselves in this area who need help. Their work includes;

  • building a local network and support for those moving into Epsom & Ewell, Ashtead and nearby
  • Connecting with people and organisations that can help with English classes, housing, clothing, food and other essential needs
  • Organising social events to enable refugees and supporters to meet others and learn from shared experiences
  • Working with other charities and organisations that can assist and offer advice and support
  • Collecting goods and donations to help refugees in the UK and abroad
  • Coming together to try and address some of the greater issues around the current refugee crisis (including advising organisations such as the refugee council)

What was the impact on the charity/community?

The Refugee ‘Crisis’ is the largest humanitarian crisis since the Second World War, yet across the UK refugees face stigmatization and hostility. Epsom Refugee Network (ERN) aims to make Epsom a haven for refugees, but as the network is still quite new and run by only a small team of dedicated volunteers, they really needed assistance in fundraising, awareness-raising and running events for their service users. Thus, by completing their social action project with ERN, the team significantly contributed to the charity’s work and drew attention to the difficulties faced by refugees and the ways in which we need to  – and can –  support them. It was also a meaningful demonstration of compassion, empathy and inclusivity towards the refugee families and individuals.

What happened during the project?

For their volunteer day, the team worked closely with volunteers at ERN to organise a ‘Picnic in the Park’; an open event for ERN members & refugees, as well as interested parties from the local community. Their preparations for the day included making decorations, designing inclusive activities and games (for a range of ages and abilities) & making & sourcing refreshments. On the day, the team set up the area, gave a welcome speech as an introduction to the event, ran the activities, distributed refreshments, helped amuse the children and conversed with many of the refugees ( helping them practice their English) and helped clear and tidy up after the event finished.

Community Impact:

The team’s project with ERN had a significant impact on the refugees involved, additional to their enjoyment of the day. Dedicating time and effort to meet them, to learn about their stories and organise a fun event for them had the deeper impact of symbolising the openness and inclusion of the community to recognise and support the refugees who come to Epsom; demonstrating a support of refugee integration which in the current political climate, is not always felt.

The partner was really impressed with the team’s engagement and enthusiasm and was really pleased that they were getting involved in making Epsom more refugee-friendly.

Why was it a successful visit for young people?

As The Challenge staff reported; “the young people have not stopped singing the praises of the visit by the refugees, the impact this has had on them has been palpable” and “the young people love working with this partner”. The team found it really “enlightening” to talk to the refugees and learn about their experiences. The learned how to look beyond the threatening headlines about a migration crisis to see the people who flee persecution, famine and war, seeking safety in the UK. After meeting the families and individuals supported by ERN, many of the team felt that their opinions about refugees had been challenged and felt more aware of the challenges they face when trying to settle and integrate into UK society.

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