Parish News|

We have launched the Chance to Thrive fundraising appeal to help young refugees fleeing Ukraine to make the best start they can to life in Wokingham Borough.

With more than 300 refugees (the vast majority women and children) now confirmed as coming to the borough, we are calling on the community to help us make sure all young people arriving here can fit in and live as full a life as possible with us. We want them to be able to take advantage of education, social life and sporting activities, as any child deserves to do.

To do this, we have launched our first ever crowdfunding appeal and are supporting it with £25,000 earmarked from the funding we will receive from central government to support refugees from Ukraine. The money donated will be used to pay for essentials, such as stationery, book bags, rucksack, scientific calculators, lunch boxes, water bottles and toiletries. For today’s secondary school children, laptops and smartphones (as well as connectivity and data) are effectively essential items as well.

But being a child is not just about the essentials and the fund will be used to enable these young arrivals to have a real life here. Therefore, it will pay for things such as membership to sports clubs, youth groups (Scouts and Guides), drama groups etc and the equipment necessary to join in fully. It may even be able to fund some social activities.

Donations can be made on the Chance to Thrive crowdfunding page. We are encouraging businesses as well as individuals to donate and all those who support will receive a regular email newsletter updating them on how the money is being spent.

The scheme will also accept donated items but only those specifically approved or requested can be accepted. We will publish a list of things we can accept and, if you have a large number of items you believe may be useful please contact us at yoursupport@wokingham.gov.uk

Chief executive Susan Parsonage said: “We have never used crowdfunding before and would not normally ask residents and businesses to donate to us – but welcoming hundreds of refugees from a war-torn country is not business as usual and the funding we’ll get from Government won’t cover the small extras that will allow our new guests to thrive here.

“We have put some money in to start the fund, but I believe the community will want to give these young people the best chance to thrive here and, while I know times are tough for many people at present, I am hopeful our residents will respond generously.

“We know that a lot of people want to do something for those fleeing Ukraine but are unable to house refugees themselves and the Chance to Thrive scheme is the perfect way to for them to help locally.”

The council has assigned a support worker to each of the refugee / host families in the borough and the scheme will allow young refugees (up to the age of 23 so that higher education needs could be met) to apply for funding via these support workers. The process will be simple and flexible so that it can meet a wide variety of needs.

WBC director of children’s service Helen Watson said: “These you people have suffered terribly and gone through things we cannot imagine. We can’t give them what they really want – a return to a peaceful and free Ukraine, but while they are with us, we can give them an opportunity to live as best as they can. For young people, we think that means the best chance to continue education and to take part in some of the sporting or social activities that the borough offers. It also means giving them back some control over their lives, which is why this scheme will be flexible and led directly by what individuals need.”

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Further information:

  1. To promote donations, use this link: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/p/chance-to-thrive-helping-young-ukrainian-refugees
  2. For more information email CEM@wokingham.gov.uk

 

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