By Erin Maycock
The chaotic scenes from Kabul airport of desperate families trying to find sanctuary were the inspiration that led the parish of St Gerard’s Thrybergh to contact both Rotherham Metropolitan Council (RMBC) and the Refugee Council. Families from Afghanistan were arriving at the United Kingdom with very little provisions and being put up in hotels. The Refugee Council was struggling in particular with finding suitable accommodation for large families and St Gerard’s had an empty presbytery. Hearts with compassion could make the obvious link.
So, after some months of preparation during which RMBC helped by funding minor repairs and alterations to the house and providing furniture, household goods and bedding, the parish eventually welcomed in May a family of mum dad and six children; the eldest child of secondary school age and the youngest almost at school age. The Refugee Council has assigned one of their case workers to work alongside the family over the next 18 months and helps the family to make contact with local schools and access the usual services we all use in our daily lives. A good partnership between the Refugee Council and the parish has developed as the family is helped to settle in.
Unfortunately mum broke her ankle shortly after arriving and this has delayed the opportunity for dad to look for work. Instead he has had to stay at home to help look after the six children and see to the domestic needs. While the family are on Universal Credit the financial aid only covers the needs of two children, it is the government policy not to fund all the children of larger families. This has caused a real strain on the family income but fortunately people have rallied round. We did not expect to be making profit out of the needs of a family that sought asylum and the rent charged is well below the rate for a four bedroomed building and helps to cover the fuel costs expected over winter. Members of the parish who work with the local Maltby Food Bank have helped the family with essential supplies and the local SVP are also giving support. Thankfully, dad is now in a position to look for work as a translator and has begun to apply for jobs.
Having six children around is a delight. The sound of their laughter from the garden and the occasional ball flying over the garden fence brings much joy and amusement. Dad was introduced to a local cricket club and has turned out to be quite a find. The club moved up the league, enjoying at one point an eleven match run without defeat and in the end secured third place. Finding sponsorship for the club is becoming easier and Dad was recently made Player of the Season. His eldest son is also becoming involved and we wait to see if he will one day open for Yorkshire.
Life is still not easy and there will I am sure be more challenges ahead but the family are a joy to have around and have enabled agencies that do not normally have the opportunity to work together to enjoy the experience. Together we are all helping one another to deliver, to stay at the crease and reach beyond the boundaries. Oh the joys of cricket.
The Refugee Council works to transform the lives of those who are seeking safety in Britain. For 70 years, we have directly supported and empowered refugees in Britain to lead safe, dignified and fulfilling lives. For more information go to www.refugeecouncil.org.uk’