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March Newsletter 2018

Wednesday, March 7th, 2018

Newsletter – March 2018

Homework Club
From November last year, and directed by Volunteer and professional teacher Claire Lee with support from Mindy and volunteers, we have been running an after-school Homework Club for 4-14 year-olds once a week in term-time. As well as using the drop-in laptops, and getting one-to-one help with their work, the kids enjoy a snack and chatting with each other. Typically around 10 children and their parents attend.

Annual Report published
The Harbour Project’s 2016-2017 Annual report has been published and is now accessible here. Take a look and spread the word. The Report may be useful when people ask ‘What does The Harbour Project do?’, and as a reporting document for current supporters and an introduction for potential new ones.

The Report is written to meet Charity Commission requirements, e.g. accounting for income & expenditure; progress on objectives etc etc. Hopefully, however, it also reflects our underlying values in prioritising Visitors’ needs. There are plenty of examples of the fun and friendship elements of Harbour amongst the statistics!
Thanks to Nationwide Building Society designing and producing the pdf.

The Harbour Project at Westminster
Claire Garrett, represented The Harbour Project at a meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Social Integration at Westminster in December.
The meeting was chaired by Chuka Umunna MP. It marked the publication of  results from  research commissioned by The British Academy into social integration “If you could do one thing…” Local actions to promote social integration” 

Part of the study looked at integration of recently arrived asylum seekers and refugees, with a focus on young people. The Harbour’s work is specifically cited in the research findings,  which identified six key themes: Learning: ESOL funding and delivery, reducing the barriers. Understanding how Systems and Processes Work: connecting with key public services, understanding the basics. Children & Young People: English language ability, tackling prejudice, helping parents integrate, safeguarding, as well as the gap in provision for young migrants aged 18-30. Building Trust in Local Communities and Overcoming Grievances: making existing communities an active and integral part of the integration process. Women & Girls: reducing isolation, raising empowerment and improving employability, as well as access to services such as healthcare and childcare. Employment & Training: the translation of foreign qualifications, exploitation and prejudice, access to employment services and upskilling, as well as opening up existing opportunities for volunteering and internships to young migrants.

We issued a media release about Claire’s participation at the event, which led to her being  interviewed on local radio – helping to maintain our profile in Swindon and, importantly,  demonstrating to the town that The Harbour’s work is recognised nationally.

Remembering Christmas 2017
Over 100 visitors and extended members of the Harbour family enjoyed a Musical Celebration of Light and Hope at St Luke’s Church on 19th December, followed by mulled wine and Mince pies in the hall. Thank you to everyone who supported.

Between Christmas and New Year, Volunteers opened the drop-in for a couple of days to provide refreshments and space for socialising, while the staff had a well-earned rest. Around twenty Visitors came each day, with a few needing practical assistance as important communications had been delayed over Christmas. On a third day, a traditional Christmas Meal was provided for Visitors by Los Gatos in Old Town.

Volunteer and art class leader Rachel Pryor worked with Hassan Noparvar on the design of the 2017 Harbour Christmas card – a story which was featured in The Swindon Advertiser.  Rachel sold nearly 2000 cards, raising £397.90 for The Harbour Project. Talking of money, our Christmas Appeal raised nearly £700 in new direct debits as well as well as one-off donations amounting to nearly £400. Thank you so much. We are feeling the love – as ever!

What on earth do the Trustees do?
The Harbour Project has 9 Trustees: David Rowlands (Chair), Juliana Ali, Chris Carlton, Claire Garrett, Kirsty Johnson, Hadiza Mahuta, Monica Potter, heather Redington and Ian Robertson. As in all charities, the Trustees are responsible for ensuring that the charity ‘does what it says on the tin’. In essence this means making sure that we meet our ‘charitable objects’ as defined with the Charity Commission, in accordance with all relevant legislation, and with integrity and honesty. The Trustees’ role includes formulating policy, planning and monitoring progress. It is not about day-to-day management and operation, which are the responsibility of the Staff. It might sound a bit theoretical, but things such as: setting financial policy, and ensuring we have ‘reserves’ to protect against unexpected crises; checking that our policies are up to date and implemented in areas such as health and safety and equal opportunities; and that we are not wasting or spending money inappropriately, have practical impacts.

Recently, our Trustees have been busily engaged in considering and responding to an independent ‘Healthcheck’ of our structure and operations, by consultant Felicia Willow. A new Strategic Plan is being developed. Watch this space or look at the structure and governance section in the Annual Report ( a schematic diagram offers one way of visualising the relationships between Staff, Trustees, Volunteers and Visitors).

Exciting new initiative on successful job seeking

Up and running!

Have you seen these new posters going up weekly at Harbour?

The ‘jobs don’t grow on trees’ series deal with employment and related issues like language acquisition, and are part of an exciting new programme Harbour is running called Steps2Work. The programme is specifically designed to support our people into the UK employment market and then help them thrive in it. It takes an holistic approach concentrating initially on two crucial issues  – integration (including developing professional networks) and English. Almost everything else follows from that.

The programme builds on the essential work of the fabulous volunteers in the drop-in centre who, every day, help visitors navigate the rapids of the bureaucratic maze that is the asylum seeker and refugee process. 

If you’re already a volunteer at Harbour you too can be a part of this initiative. When you’re chatting with our visitors, why don’t you tell them about your experiences in the UK employment market – about how many times you had to apply for a job before you got the one you were after; about how often you had to rework your CV to match the job description; about the ‘exit strategy’ you used when getting ready to leave one job to move onto a better one.

You already give them the gifts of warmth and friendship, why not share your knowledge of the UK employment market too?

It takes a community to successfully help new comers establish a new life!

Read this article written about Khulood, An Syrian Optician who fled war and is now volunteering at Great Western Hospital.

Visit the Steps2Work page here.

Quiz Night – 13th April 2018

Refugee Week – 18th – 24th June 2018 – Once again our sister organisation Swindon City Of Sanctuary is coordinating festivities. We look forward to sharing with you a week of activities celebrating the different cultures of refugees in Swindon

Thanks to Giles, Mindy, Lucy (Citizen’s Advice), Nat (Swindon City of Sanctuary), Bronwyn and Paul for fascinating training recently on ‘Leave to Remain’.