We are a group of people who care. There are about 80 active volunteers, Muslims, Christians and others, working together to put at least some refugee families back on their feet after their nightmare experiences. Here are the core group and trustees, who lead the different teams.
How it all began?
Need for Action
In the autumn of 2015, a petition and then a motion were presented to Wycombe District Council, asking for them to agree to accept some of the 20,000 refugees whom the Government had pledged to resettle under the Vulnerable Persons’ Resettlement Scheme. The Council was not minded to take any. Those of us who wanted to help refugees therefore sought another way to do so.
Acting together with loving kindness
Following bombings in Paris and elsewhere, interfaith vigils were organised. It became apparent that there was a groundswell of support among people of goodwill in High Wycombe, and a movement called Acting Together with Loving Kindness was born. When we registered as a charity in July 2016, the name was changed to Wycombe Refugee Partnership.
We offer wrap-around support to resettle refugee families in the High Wycombe area. This includes housing, education, language, befriending, welfare and job-seeking support.
When the pandemic started, we became aware that there were more refugees and asylum- seekers in High Wycombe who were in dire need. Some were not even receiving the Home Office allowance of £39.63 pp pw, because they had opted out of a system which could whisk the family off to another town at minimal notice. These people had been relying on friends for financial support – and then the friends were hit financially by Covid, so life had become very difficult indeed.
At the height of the pandemic, we were delivering halal food to 91 people twice a week. Some have moved away and are now providing supermarket vouchers to around 15 families and 14 individuals, as well as responding to requests for furniture, clothes, school uniforms, school-books, bus fares and access to sports. During lockdown, we provided laptops and tablets so that children could do their schoolwork online, as well as paying for broadband in some cases. Most important of all, in the hostile environment fostered by the Home Office, we are showing them that there are people in their adopted country who care about them.
Resettling refugee families
We have so far helped resettle 22 refugee families. They came from Syria, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Palestine, Sudan, Albania, Pakistan, Afghanistan and China. We have the use of a halfway house provided by Chilterns Area Quaker Meeting, where a family will normally stay for the first three months or so. We stock the house with food, toiletries and cleaning products before they arrive. We help them to register with a doctor, a dentist, schools and universal credit. We help them find their way round the town and discover activities of interest to them. Most importantly, we help with job-hunting, as at least one of the adults needs to be in full-time work for the family to be accepted as tenants in the private rental sector. Once a job has been secured, we help with house-hunting: we make them a gift of the deposit and the first month’s rent and we source the furniture and furnishings they will need.
Dr Stephanie Rybak
Vice-Chair and Trustee
Dr Tanveer Choudhary
Befriending Lead and Trustee
Dr Nasheeda Mariyam
Trustee and Volunteer Co-ordinator
Trustee and Team Lead for English for Speakers of Other Languages
Donated Goods Lead and Community Response
Welfare and Work Team Lead
Join the team and help make a difference!
About High Wycombe
High Wycombe is the name of this town but it is often just called Wycombe. It is a large
town with a population of about 125,000. Wycombe is a market town - there has been a
market here for hundreds of years. The town also has a history of paper mills and furniture
making. There are good schools at primary and secondary level and there are a small
university and a hospital in the centre of the town.
There is a mixed population of about 77% white British but also around 16% of Asian background, mostly Muslim from Pakistan and Azad Kashmir.
Wycombe is in the county of Buckinghamshire (Bucks).
High Wycombe is 25 minutes by fast train from London Marylebone. It has a good network of buses.
Nearby large towns include Reading and Slough. There are lots of small villages close to High Wycombe, as well as some lovely countryside - fields, farms and woodlands.