Welcome Fund brings festive joy to children of refugees

The first grant from our Welcome Fund, set up to help all refugees and asylum seekers who want to make Wiltshire and Swindon their home, will spread some festive joy for families.

The fund has awarded £1,500 to the Swindon Toy Appeal, which is organised by churches in the town and has delivered almost 1,000 gift sacks to children this Christmas. The grant funded gift sacks for 79 young people from all over the world who are living with their families in Swindon. Almost half fled Afghanistan in the summer in the wake of the Taliban takeover.

The appeal has been working with the Harbour Project in Swindon to make sure refugee children are not forgotten at Christmas. Commenting on the project Dawn Prosser, a member of the organising committee said: “The parents were really excited about their children getting a new toy, it’s something really special for them. We were able to give them three main present toys, a soft toy and a book and teenagers were given a £20 Amazon voucher.

“We also bought each Afghan family ludo because it is the national game in Afghanistan. I’ve been told that everyone plays it there because is nowhere to go for people, so they go to each other’s houses to play ludo.

"The grant has really helped the appeal, as we’ve had a steady rise in referrals from schools, churches, charities and Swindon Borough Council. Two years ago we had 350 referrals, last year it was 750 and this year it is 930.”

“We didn’t have enough toys donated but people have donated financially and we had some money left from last year thankfully. Because of what we received from Wiltshire Community Foundation we were able to buy toys for the children of the refugees, which has meant we can help more families so we are very grateful.”

Wiltshire Community Foundation joint chief executive Fiona Oliver says: “This is the first grant made from the Welcome Fund and we are delighted that it will truly make these children feel welcome by including them in our Christmas celebrations. We are very thankful that our donors’ generosity has allowed us to share this spirit of Christmas with young people who are feeling so uncertain about their future.”

In the New Year we will be awarding further grants to help the local voluntary sector and community groups to deliver a range of assistance and practical activities to support resettlement and build futures for refugees and asylum seekers in our communities.

You can find out more about the Welcome Fund and make a donation here

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