Couple who led Syrian refugee project thank volunteers and businesses for their help

By The Editor

8th Feb 2024 | Local News

The Syrian family who have spent just over two years living in Alsager with volunteers of the project. (Photo: Catherine Smith)
The Syrian family who have spent just over two years living in Alsager with volunteers of the project. (Photo: Catherine Smith)

A group of people who helped support and mentor a Syrian refugee family to live in Alsager have said a big thank you to those who supported them.

For just over two years, a young Syrian refugee family and their three primary aged children have been living in the town after more than £9,000 was raised to bring them to Alsager.

The group worked with a scheme set up by the United Nations Refugee Agency and the Home Office called Community Sponsorship and the Syrian family family .

They say the Syrian family, who are now living in Macclesfield, fled their home village initially because the local army and a terrorist organisation wanted the father to fight for them.

Meetings were held a group of volunteers formed who immediately started fundraising to raise the £9000 required to be approved for the scheme.

The group was led the group Tony Smith and helped by his wife Cathie Smith who said: "We were very successful, holding coffee mornings, quiz nights, sweepstakes for Strictly Come Dancing and Bake Off and a whisky tasting evening,"

"Two local restaurants – Latifs and Casters were very supportive, allowing us to hold fundraising meals in their restaurants.

"Within 12 months we had raised more than the £9k needed to apply to the Home Office to be considered for the scheme. We found a private property that the family could rent, and then set about recruiting another team of volunteers who were willing to give up their time each week once the family arrived."

The Smiths added: "The people of Alsager had been very generous providing everything the family needed in their new home. One of our volunteers who had connections with the Middle East cooked a meal for the family on the day they arrived.

"Despite the cold weather in the UK that September the family settled quickly into life in Alsager. We have to say that neighbours living near the family could not have been more welcoming and the family soon made friends in their road.

"The children all went to Cranberry School. Again the school was brilliant. Within six months the children were all understanding and speaking English.

"Thanks to local connections, the dad got a job as a dairyman at Halton's farm four months after he arrived in this country. His shifts started at 4.30 am, so we found someone locally who donated a refurbished bike, and we kitted our man out in every piece of fluorescent clothing and light that we could find, and sent him off to cycle the five miles to the farm three times a week.

"Our dad had broken his leg in Lebanon and had not been able to afford the medical fees to get it set properly. Despite physio at Leighton hospital, the cycle ride in all weather in the early hours was causing him some issues so he was given a second hand electric bike, and this made the commute to and from work much easier for him."

The family and the charity would like to thank the people of Alsager for everything they did for the family in the last two years. Particular thanks to their neighbours, the community of Cranberry School, Cedars GP surgery, the staff in Asda and everyone else that has helped them on their way. Everyone who stopped and said hello or smiled at them has helped them to feel welcome.

"We would like to personally thank the team of volunteers who have quietly supported the family since they arrived, helping to teach them English, making sure they got to medical appointments, giving their children help with their homework, and helping the family with their finances. You know who you are and you have been amazing."

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