Watford has lots of unsung heroes, but one group, in particular, is knee deep in one of the most divisive topics in Britain today – REFUGEES.
To mark the UN Refugee Agency’s, World Refugee Day, held every year on June 20th, we’re shining the spotlight on the Watford and Three Rivers Refugee Partnership (WTRRP).
Launched in the early 21st century, the partnership offers practical and emotional support to asylum-seekers, refugees and those with no recourse to public funds (NRPF), who are often destitute and homeless or inadequate accommodation. The partnership’s mission is to help the adults and children who have for one reason or another found themselves in Watford, get to a sustainable position as full members of our society.
‘To start with, I just needed someone to listen to me’ she said. ‘I’m really thankful to WTRRP for doing that’ – Amina
Speaking to WTRRP, we learned about the job at hand, hearing how individuals and families may have left warzones or persecution, but continue to live in fear with a reluctance to talk about their circumstances. They may have escaped the horrors of the Middle East and elsewhere, but they now face a Middle England also getting to grips with the crisis and subsequent influx.
With almost 100 families registered with WTRRP – many are impoverished due to their legal status meaning they can’t work for a living, and even when they have leave to remain (LTR), they can often only find low paid jobs which makes life here in Watford tough. But here’s the truly inspiring part of the story. Bureaucracy is a tough world for a refugee or migrant, and with social and other services constantly under financial strain, the selfless WTRRP volunteers are continually going the extra mile to stand by their clients to give them every support they possibly can.
‘Thanks to WTRRP, I can now begin my journey to independence. WTRRP will still be there beside me as I continue Esol classes, finding furniture, helping with my CV and continuing the food boxes’ – Jessica
In 2017 alone the partnership helped 245 people in various ways throughout the year, from helping with fees, delivering essential food items, and providing access to some light relief for families with little reason to celebrate.
We’re told that a keyword amongst the volunteers is ‘befriend’. This, perhaps first and foremost, means providing some comfort and friendship to a person or family who has found themselves at a loss in a country where they may not speak the language. But, as ever while friendship and moral support are very important, helping feed and clothe people are assuring their human right.
COME ON WATFORD: WTRRP is always in need of volunteers, not only to befriend but also to help with publicity, raise funds, distribute food and with social events. If you wish to get involved please go to the WTRRP website: wtrrp.org.uk or go along and support them at their Garden Party on Sunday 24th June 2.30 – 4.30 pm at Cheslyn Gardens, Nascot Wood Road, WD17 4SL.