Support needed for refugees

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Refugee settlement support - volunteer coordinator Wendy Hewitt.
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If you are looking for a rewarding activity, would like to learn about another culture and help a family settle into Ashburton, Safer Mid Canterbury would like to meet you.

Safer Mid Canterbury’s refugee settlement support team are on the lookout for volunteers to assist and befriend new refugees to Ashburton.

Refugee settlement support – volunteer coordinator Wendy Hewitt said anybody of any age and background is welcome to become a volunteer.

‘‘If we’ve got all ages with different interests, that is ideal because the families range from pre-schoolers to adults.’’

The refugees are from Afghanistan and each family has a team of four volunteers assigned to them.

‘‘That way we are covering off everyone’s availability and their interests,’’ Wendy said.

There are currently seven refugee families in Ashburton, with two more due to arrive soon and new families arriving around every six weeks, so Wendy requires a pool of volunteers to call on.

The volunteers can dictate how much time they would like to put in, ‘‘if they are visiting their family at least once a week, that’s good.’’

Some put in more, some put in less, and fulltime workers are welcome ‘‘because weekends and after school are good times to be visiting the families.’’

Wendy said the volunteers take the families shopping and to sports and other activities and show them around Mid Canterbury.

‘‘A lot of it is sitting with them and having a cup of tea and just talking to improve their English.’’

The volunteers also set up the homes for the families before they move in.

Wendy said seeing the people settle in is rewarding for volunteers, ‘‘they almost become an extension of the family, they are coming from a totally different culture so there is so much to learn, so the volunteers get a lot of enjoyment out of helping them with that.’’

The centre is also looking for donations for the families like kitchenware, stove top pressure cookers, sewing machines, TVs, bedding and, as the families come from a warmer climate, fire wood is also needed through the year.

If you would like more information contact Wendy on 027 244 7127 or [email protected]