In Solidarity

Home from Home Hallam looks back on a year of support for a refugee family

Our mission is to act “in solidarity” with our Syrian family. But what does Solidarity mean?

Solidarity means listening…. to the family, to experts; discovering the reality of being a refugee. 

Solidarity means house-hunting, and home-making; putting up curtains, taking down shelves, waiting…for beds to arrive, meters to be read.  Finding the right person in Local Authority, Health and Education services, and establishing rapport.  Negotiating that impenetrable maze, the ‘Benefits System’. Working miracles daily.

Solidarity is setting up a mobile phone contract, involving speaking English AND having Home Office ID – for which we prayed…endlessly!

Solidarity means risking ineptitude, especially on Google Translate – watching as my carefully-worded English sentence becomes incomprehensible gibberish in Arabic – or listening to a child’s description, in halting English, of a trip to the disco – or Tesco?  What did he make of my replies?

Solidarity is chasing unwarranted delays, checking for omissions, oversights, pressing British Gas to return money missing from the family account.

Solidarity is shared exasperation at simple medical resources taking  6 months to materialise, at appointments are changed, again.  It’s reassuring each other, when our comfort zone is miles away – not that we always agree.  Thank God!!

Solidarity is helping children settle and learn, helping parents cope with meetings, job centre visits, language providers.  We literally walk alongside them – or take the tram!

Solidarity is happiness shared:  it’s enjoying Dad’s pride at the rows of vegetables in his new garden, his joy at his son’s English; and mum’s smile, as her disabled daughter moves to our guitar music, while the younger girl laughs, boasting sparkly, dentist-cleaned teeth.

Solidarity tastes like sweet tea, graciously offered, with homemade Syrian cakes.

To quote Charlie Mackesy: “ We have such a long way to go……but look how far we have come”. Kate McCullough ‘Home from Home Hallam’