Asylum seekers and refugees welcomed to Ilkley for two fun days

Families and asylum-seeking refugees currently living in Bradford recently benefited from two days of activities in Ilkley organized by local residents as part of the Wharfedale Refugee Response support group.

Felicity Tomblin and Sue Staton, together with Refugee Action in Bradford, organized the days as part of an ongoing initiative to extend the hand of friendship to families around the world and facilitate fun day trips to Ilkley and in the surrounding area, creating memorable experiences. for children and their families.

The first trip at the end of August was a full day of outdoor fun at the Nell Bank Center where a group of families (70 people) enjoyed building a den, soaking in a pond , adventure playground play and other activities to inspire learning and curiosity. led by Nell Bank’s dedicated team of staff and volunteers.

The second trip took place on October 1 to Ilkley Grammar School where families from Nigeria, Sudan, El Salvador and Iran/Iranian Kurdistan were welcomed by IGS teachers, students and volunteers who all happily gave up their Saturday to offer their help to Bradford’s 60 visitors.

Families enjoyed the orienteering on Ilkley Moor led by Associate Assistant Principal Matthew Carr and the school’s art rooms were used for workshop sessions with families creating charcoal artwork led by artist Gill Gilroy and mobile paper plate sculptures led by mobile artist Juliet Gutch, to artistically celebrate the integration of art, education and community engagement.

Some of the Iranian families wanted the political message of their mobile sculptures to reach a wider audience in order to educate others about current events in Iran, so a dedicated art installation was created which is currently on display in the school for sharing with all students and visitors to the school.

IGS Director Carly Purnell said: “I am delighted that IGS was able to provide a venue and that so many staff and students were able to support such a great event. It’s wonderful to hear that they have made such a difference for so many families and that our students have been able to demonstrate so many of our school’s values, showing care and compassion and volunteering their time to make a difference. positive for others.

Both days were a huge success with feedback such as:

Father of 8-year-old boy: “My son couldn’t sleep last night because he was so excited and I was also excited. There is no way we can afford to come to such a place on our own budget. I’m spending all of our asylum support to get to school. It’s so great that there are people who care about others and give us such opportunities. Thank you to everyone who made this possible.

13 year old girl: “I have never been part of a group activity or even a day since we arrived in the UK 6 months ago now. My mother is seriously depressed and never leaves the house, but she decided to come and please my little sister. I didn’t expect people to be so nice and kind to us. I participated in all the activities and enjoyed everything we did together, especially building the den together. I became friends with a nice girl who is my age. My mom felt so relaxed and I saw her smiling most of the time. Thank you for creating this opportunity for people like us and thank you for inviting us on this journey”.

Organizer Felicity said: “We love organizing days for families supported by Refugee Action because we know the huge difference they make for families who have been forced to flee their own country under often traumatic and heartbreaking. Having been involved in Refugee Action for six years now, we welcome people to the city who, without exception, leave at the end of the day with a huge smile on their face and the feeling that they have felt welcomed by its inhabitants. .

“These outings represent a little respite where parents don’t have to think about how to feed their kids for a day and the kids have had something fun to do, which is often very rare.”

Felicity and Sue would like to give special thanks to Children Charities Circle Bradford who funded Nell Bank, Ilkley Food Bank and the Trustees of Ilkley Food Bank for their support, 6 years of All Saints’ C of E Primary School who carried out a ‘Grow a Fiver’ activity in the last semester of the last school year to benefit Refugee Action Bradford, and the staff and pupils of Ilkley Grammar School. They would also like to thank all the volunteers who helped out on both days.

For more information on Wharfedale Refugee Response’s work, including an upcoming Coats Appeal and Christmas Gift Appeal, please visit their Facebook page @wharfedalerefugeeresponse.

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