Have A Stranger To Dinner For A Good Cause

Local woman appeals to Chiswick residents to consider inviting a young refugee home


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Chiswick resident Judy Williams was concerned about the plight of the growing number of refugees fleeing from war zones to the UK and decided to do something about it. Helped by the charity Centrepoint, she invited a young refugee into her home to spend a day with her family and the visit was such a success that she is now asking other Chiswick residents to consider doing something similar.

Judy is calling on local families to think about inviting young refugees for a meal in order to give them the chance of spending time in a family home and at the same time, helping them to integrate into British society in the longer term.

Centrepoint is the charity which, together with local authorities round the country, is responsible for looking after many of the young people arriving in Britain.

Centrepoint help homeless young people. Image: Centrepoint

She told chiswickw4.com; "It was a very successful occasion for both sides and I thought that there may be other families that would like to embark on this informal arrangement."

Judy added: "I was interested in the idea of offering these young people an opportunity to meet British families. This would give them the chance to spend time in a British home, meet a family and have the occasional meal with them. I thought this would take them outside the refugee zone of their daily existence and at the same time help them integrate into British society in an informal and friendly way.

Her enquiries led her to Centrepoint which, together with local authorities round the country, is responsible for looking after many of the young people arriving in Britain. Her contact at Centrepoint told Judy that no such informal arrangement for bringing young refugees in touch with British families existed, but that they would be willing to set up such opportunities.

"As a result, we were put in touch with a young man, who arrived in Britain in September 2015, having left Darfur in 2013 with a few other young men from his tribe. They lost touch with each other along the way, travelling first to Libya, then Italy, then France and finally Britain. He is just 17. He is being well cared-for by Centrepoint and Brent Council who have given him a supervised home with five other young men, each from a different country. He has his own room, receives cooking lessons, goes to college, where he has leant good English in the last few months, and aspires to go to university, which he will undoubtedly achieve,despite having had no possibility of schooling in Darfur."

Judy described her visitor as "a remarkable young man" with whom the family spent a very enjoyable evening over a meal in their home.

"He has been through great hardship all his young life, moving several times to escape war, but he was self-assured and optimistic, clearly making the most of his new life.

"We hope that this visit, which we plan to repeat, has been a welcoming experience for him as much as it was an enlightening one for us. I wanted to give anyone else who might be interested in offering a similar experience, the chance to do so. In speaking to Centrepoint, I emphasized that we wished to offer an informal arrangement and were not intending to become formal mentors or to set up rigid arrangements for regular meetings, though we hoped that both parties would wish to meet again."

If anyone is interested in helping out please email volunteer@centrepoint.org

May 26, 2016

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