New leadership structure
Following an external independent Health Check of the Harbour Project in 2017 by consultant Felicia Willow, and after great deal of consideration, the Trustees have reviewed staff roles and management at The Harbour.

A new structure will be formed, including a new part-time Director post that will provide hands-on executive and operational leadership including, and importantly, around fundraising. The Director will work closely with, and report to, the Chair of the Board of Trustees; the Board remaining responsible for oversight of the overall strategy and probity of the Project and its accountability to the Charity Commission.

These changes reflect the significant growth of the Harbour in recent years, the need to maintain funding from diverse sources in the medium term (i.e. after the end of the current BIG Lottery award in 2022), and the need to maintain efficiency and transparency across an expanding portfolio of activities. It is expected that the New Director will be in post by the summer.

Harbour’s English classes continue to develop

Paul Beaumont describes our English classes for visitors, which run every weekday morning.

“Classes last for 90 minutes. Our usual format is to have two sets of tables: one for “Beginners” learning basic vocabulary, the alphabet, numbers and sounds, and another for learners who already have the basics. There are almost always two (sometimes three) teachers per session. We are fortunate to be able to draw upon a “pool” of fifteen volunteers, almost all of whom have some teaching experience; and we have been given some very useful resources.”

Volunteers Maureen and Dave run popular themed English lessons once a month on topics related to life in Britain – its history, customs and culture. As they describe it, “the aim is to extend visitors’ vocabulary and understand what it is to be British”.
Recently, Paul and colleagues have increased the support offered and flexibility in meeting visitors’ needs. “We have just begun to offer a class twice a week to students approaching intermediate level; and we provide individual support for a few who are at College and one who does shift work.  We want to increase this provision. Finding space can be a problem: one volunteer meets individuals in the Library.”

A very exciting development is on track thanks to linking with Harbour’s ‘Steps2Work’ programme led by Bronwyn Young (see separate Newsletter item).  Two groups of visitors are being offered the chance to obtain a qualification by attending sessions organised by Whitehead Ross. The 10-week programme involves them attending for four hours on a Monday or a Tuesday. We are grateful to Swindon Borough Council for supporting the English skills course (a City and Guilds Qualification) which is provided through Adult Community Learning SBC.

WATCH THIS SPACE too for forthcoming news about access to intensive English classes this summer, thanks to funding from a local business. As Bronwyn says, ‘intensive courses really can ‘supercharge’ integration’.

There is also a developing relationship with teachers and students of a course in Spain on Vocational Training in Social Integration.  Both sets of students have exchanged letters.  Again, watch this space.

Now we are Eighteen!

Did you know that the Harbour Project celebrates its eighteenth birthday this month?

A great deal has changed, but much has stayed the same – notably the focus on offering friendship, a warm welcome and practical help to whoever comes through the door. Another constant has been the support of a wide range of community groups, organisations and individuals across the town.

By the time it was registered as a charity in 2003, the Project was running on a budget that was about a fifth of what it is today. Just keeping going and employing a member of staff or two when funds allowed was challenging in those early days.  Hopefully, those pioneers of 2000 are happy with the developments they see today.

We are putting a potted history of the Harbour on the website. If you have ‘reminiscences’ from the early days, please let Monica know, so we can expand our archives.

Are you keeping up with Steps2Work? 

Led by Bronwyn Young, this programme aims to equip and enable our visitors to make the most of their skills and experience in volunteering or training and, for those eligible, in employment.

It is moving ahead fast. You may have seen the local press coverage of how one of our visitors Khulood, a professional optician, has been helped by the programme to find a volunteering opportunity at the Great Western Hospital, where she is working closely with another hospital volunteer at the main reception on ‘meet and greet’. This is typical of the tailored one-to-one support offered by Bronwyn, and other volunteers including Tracy Starkey, Anne Smith and Penny Manders .

Whether it’s basics on CV preparation, cultural norms for how to present yourself to a prospective teacher or employer, how to climb the jobs ladder, or having someone accompany you to a first interview at the Job Centre, everyone is different and needs the support that’s right for them. This new programme is already making a difference. Recently, a visitor doing casual night-shift work in a warehouse secured a full-time post as a web developer.

Restoring people’s confidence is essential. Alone in a new culture, the worlds of jobs fairs, volunteering and apprenticeships could be daunting. With the Steps2work team alongside it’s a different matter as the Harbour continues to build partnerships with local businesses and the local community to help get our people into work.

Breaking news: – Take a look at the accompanying article on English classes for some more amazing developments.  Contact

A therapeutic approach to helping our visitors
Dr Claire Launchbury who is studying at Tavistock Centre in London, renowned around the world for its approach to issues of mental distress, mental health and emotional wellbeing, describes her current placement at the Harbour.

“I’m undertaking this placement as part of a Master’s degree in Refugee Care at the University of Essex and the Tavistock Centre. The course is designed to train those who work with refugees and asylum seekers to do so therapeutically by drawing on a range of clinical models—systemic, psychoanalytic, narrative. Already on the course, and alert to the legal framework concerning immigration, we have spent a day observing proceedings at the Asylum Tribunal Appeals Court at Hatton Cross, having lunch with the judges and a meeting with the Resident Judge.

As an academic in French and Cultural Studies, I have been working on post-conflict Lebanon for several years and conducted extensive field work in Beirut as a visiting fellow at the American University of Beirut and lecturer at the Université Saint-Joseph; I have also visited Jordan and the West Bank in the course of my research. I chose to study Refugee Care after supporting people in the aftermath of the fire at Grenfell Tower, residents who had been involuntarily displaced and effectively refugees within their own London Borough.

I’ve found working with the Harbour an incredible experience. There is an amazing atmosphere of support, friendliness and joy in spite of visitors often responding to different degrees of crisis. With one Trustee, Heather Redington, I’m helping to understand issues of health and wellbeing among our community and what steps we can take to support people emotionally and mentally. I’m also increasingly involved in the vibrant Steps2work programme specifically in supporting processes to access higher education.

The Harbour really is an agency that stands as a beacon in the welcome and support it offers. The drop-in is a glorious multi-lingual soundscape and testament to the amazing learning that can take place when people listen, support and advocate for each other.”

The Harbour Quiz Night…Our Best Ever Result Yet!

The Harbour Quiz night really is a tremendous FUNdraiser! The evening made a profit of £1,678.96. Our best – ever result yet! Thank you to Tim, Eric, Keith and Kevin – the quiz masters!

Also, thank you too the Harbour family for helping organise the evening. A lot of time and effort goes into making the event so successful and we really appreciate your help!

We had a fabulous array of raffle prizes donated, thank you to these lovely Swindon businesses for their generosity. Baila Coffee & VinylOink GalleryCoffee and FlowersLos GatosWood Street WellbeingSofar Sounds SwindonOgbourne Downs Golf Club and Pulse Wholefoods!

Well done to the winning team ‘All the King’s men, The Commonweal School’!!
Back row: Andrew Beck, Charles Drew, Paul Battye, Israk Miah;
Front row: Emma Ainslie-King (cpt), Janet Foster, Roy Jamieson with Kevin Ashman

We look forward to seeing you all again next year!

Refugee Week 2018 looking forward – Plans are well on their way for Refugee week – Save the date 18th – 24th June and keep an eye on the Swindon City of Sanctuary Website for more specific events information.

Ian Raised….for The Harbour Project!Ian Raised….for The Harbour Project!
Thank you to Ian Howard for running the London Landmarks Half Marathon to raise money for the Harbour Project!

Thanks to his hard work and determination he has already raised £675 that will go towards our destitution fund. His just giving page will be open for the rest of this month if you would like to contribute!