A network to harness support and connections for refugees and asylum seekers across Dudley borough

August 8, 2022
Published by Kate Green

Dudley CVS stands in solidarity with the people of Ukraine, Afghanistan, Syria and people seeking refuge from other countries.

People and organisations across Dudley borough have been coming together to help local and international appeals to support those seeking refuge from Ukraine, Afghanistan, Syria and other countries.

Dudley CVS coordinates a network to harness support and nurture connections for refugees and asylum seekers across Dudley borough. It brings together people, statutory partners and the voluntary and community sector to share information and make connections.

We’d like to showcase some of the great work taking place in the community.

Welcome Group Halesowen

Welcome Group Halesowen is a Christian faith-based charity seeking to alleviate social isolation and financial exclusion of vulnerable asylum seekers and refugees, providing a safe weekly drop-in and telephone support for people across Dudley, Sandwell and the west of Birmingham. They offer friendship, refreshments, empathy, guidance, signposting, financial support, foodbank access, clothes, baby supplies and household goods.

The group has two drop-in sessions which are completely free for the 50-80 adults to attend and bus fares are covered too. There are also toys and activities for pre-school children, as well as cultural and recreational activities on offer too to coincide with celebrations like the Commonwealth Games, Easter and Eid. (Sessions take place Monday morning 10.15 to 11.45am and Monday afternoon 12.30 to 2.00pm, term-time only, at Owen House, rear of Lifecentral Church, Little Cornbow, Halesowen, B63 3AJ.) The group also helps to supply school uniforms and other practical tools such as preloaded SIM cards to help asylum-seekers and refugees to stay connected.

The sustained and one-off support that we have given to around 200 asylum seekers and refugees has in many cases made surviving the struggles of living on meagre asylum support or benefits that little bit more bearable. We have been able to supply essential goods that they cannot afford to buy, such as clothes, small appliances, furniture and pushchairs.

We have given out many small cash grants to enable them to buy basic necessities, to take primary school-aged children to school when they’ve been forcibly moved to different areas and to help with food and utilities for those with no recourse to public funds among many other reasons. The bus passes we provide each week enable them to come to our sessions for social engagement and friendship, combatting loneliness and isolation. They can meet friends in the same situation and from their country in a safe and welcoming environment.

Much of the support we give is impossible to quantify – showing empathy, just listening, someone to cry with or share problems, people to pray with them, knowing that in the broken and hostile asylum system that there are local people who care about their plight. Our support is social, emotional, spiritual, practical and economic.” Andrew Harwood,

The Welcome group has received some lovely feedback:

‘When I come to the Welcome Group I am happy and can laugh. Most of the time when I’m at home on my own I am crying’ (Violet from West Africa)

‘You guys are amazing solving people’s who are vulnerable problems.’(Victoria from Tanzania after the Welcome Group topped up her mobile when she had no credit to phone her solicitor.)

‘We are in the house, waiting for a supermarket voucher. You saved our day. Thanks, thanks’(Victoria from Tanzania)

‘Without the group, it’s hard to survive. We really need the group to keep going for funding to keep helping us. Without your group, we can’t survive. We really need and appreciate what you guys are doing for us, helping with paying for food and electric.’(Hugo)

‘Thank you very much for all your help, for me is very important and a small help. I’m an asylum seeker and have not much opportunity for clothes for extra personal things. Thank you a lot. Thank you very much, you have made our life easier.  Our family will always be grateful to you.’(Odeta from Albania)

‘I have been through so many difficult times over the last few years. My faith in God has kept me from losing hope and you have helped me so much when I had no money when I really needed it. Now I can help myself as I have my refugee status and have the skills to work.’(Comforter from Zimbabwe)

Black Country Foodbank

Black Country Foodbank supplies emergency food and toiletry parcels to those in crisis. They also support alternative food aid provision such as cooked meals.

“We have provided drinks and snacks to a group who meet in Netherton through a local social prescriber. We regularly provide toiletries and food to the Welcome Group in Halesowen and have done this for many years. The feedback we have received has been very positive. The groups we have supported have been really grateful and the donations have taken the pressure off the funding so that the funding can be used to enrich the group in other ways.” Jen Coleman, Black Country Foodbank

Black Country Foodbank received some lovely feedback from the Welcome Group, “Today we at Welcome Group had our party. We were able to give out presents to approximately 150 children, together with toiletries for men and women. Thank you very much for your help with this as most of the toiletries came from you”

Walk and Draw – Integrated Plus

Our Integrated Plus social prescribing team identifies opportunities for people to become more involved and active in their community to help improve their wellbeing. Our team also help to ensure people are accessing services and activities appropriate to their needs.

Walk and Draw is an opportunity for people who have migrated to Dudley to meet new friends and make connections. This video features the Integrated Plus weekly Walk & Draw session in Priory Park, Dudley, and the impact the group is having on people’s lives.

For more information about support available for Ukrainian refugees and host families, please visit Dudley Council’s webpage: https://www.dudley.gov.uk/ukraine.

If your organisation is offering support please contact shelley.brooks@dudley.gov.uk if you would like your activities to be listed on the Council’s webpage.


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