Refugee Week 18-24 June 2018

  • 30 May 2018

Refugee Week takes place every year across the world focusing on World Refugee Day on the 20th June.

The theme of this year is DIFFERENT PASTS, SHARED FUTURE.

Refugee Week is a chance for communities to join together to reflect and plan practical actions to create better understanding between different communities and to encourage successful integration, enabling refugees to live in safety and continue making a valuable contribution.

This year we would like to ask our supporters to get involved with Refugee Week for Step by Step.

Did you know that we work with young people that are Refugees?

As part of our work with West Berkshire Council, 80% of our Supported Lodgings hosts (families who have spare rooms in their own homes) accommodate unaccompanied asylum seeking children to live with them.

These young people travel to the UK and have heard that Reading is a big town. Often they get as far as the Thatcham Services and think they have reached their ‘destination’, before realising they are in the middle of nowhere. Often they then get picked up by the Police, put in contact with Children’s Services and then passed to Step by Step for support. When they arrive, they often only own what they have been wearing for the past few months.

Our hosts and Step By Step support these young people to:

  • Access an interpreter if they have little understanding of English
  • Give them toiletries and new items of clothing.
  • Assist them to enrol in education, apply for jobs or adjust to our culture around the home. We also assist them to register with their local dentist and doctor etc.
  • We advocate on their behalf with Social Services

Hear more from one of our Supported Lodgings hosts, Colin*

I’ve been a host for nearly 9 years. When I first started my plan was to offer my house to 1 or 2 young people each time. But with the growing number of young people in desperate situations, I knew I was in the position to be able to offer more help. They have nowhere to go and I am able to provide a safe, secure and relaxed environment for them. So now I have 4 young people staying with me.

They stay for around 2 years, sometimes longer, sometimes shorter. A number of them are asylum seekers so they live with me as they wait for the decision on whether they have the right to remain. The young refugees are particularly grateful for the support.

They want to learn - they study very hard and are eager to learn English and Maths and to make a better life for themselves. Some know what they want to do, some have never been given the opportunity to think of aspirations. One young boy just wanted to be in the circus! He went to Circus College, and practised juggling in the garden. He still keeps in touch and sends me videos of their shows!

We are extremely fortunate. Some of these kids would love to have our problems. They come here with literally nothing. The Step by Step Supported Lodgings model is very good. The whole organisation of the programme, the matching process, the support…it is run extremely well. This is why the success rate is so high. We are all humans. I believe that if I can do my bit, then I can help make that difference.

Colin, West Berkshire Supported Lodging Host (*name changed to protect privacy)

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