It can be isolating to be one of just 3 Syrian families in Ripon. We try to facilitate social links with British people, which helps with assimilation and integration, and in turns supports independence.
Mixing with British people and culture
We try to help the Syrian families in Ripon to mix with local people and start to understand our culture. We’ve arranged a variety of social events including Christmas parties and strawberries teas, and we’ve introduced them to the mayor and to the police. We also run a Facebook page – partially in Arabic, partially in Ebglish – where we explain local customs and special dates, and promote local attractions and events.
Getting to know the region
North Yorkshire is 80% rural, buses are expensive, and it can be hard to find ways to get to know your new country when the language barrier makes it difficult to access information. We have helped families to visit regional attractions such as Kettlewell Scarecrow Festival, Fountains Abbey and Newby Hall. We are also delighted to have secured some local charitable funding for helping the Syrian families to get out and about: for 2018, several minibus trips have been arranged to a range of destinations including the Dales, the seaside, and York’s Railway Museum.
We help to facilitate links with other Arabic-speakers, especially where other Syrians have been resettled. To date this has centered around Harrogate and Knaresborough, but we’re now starting links with the new arrivals in Richmond and Northallerton.
Hull & Wakefield
In September 2016, we hosted over 100 refugees and asylum-seekers from Hull and Wakefield, and a year later we received the Wakefield group again. On both occasions, the mayor of Ripon, Pauline McHardy (a great supporter) spent the day with our guests. The visitors saw local attractions including the Leper Chapel, the Workhouse Museum and Ripon Cathedral.
In February 2018, we were delighted to be invited back to Wakefield for a reciprocal trip, thanks to the hospitality of Wakefield District of Sanctuary, so all of the families were able to mix again and enjoy some Syrian food, chat and dancing.