Hello friends,

To get these emails from us (every 6 weeks-ish) do make sure you’ve signed up for the Mailing List on the website. In the meantime, here is Newsletter #3:  

Launch Meeting Success

We were delighted that so many local people joined us for an evening of stories, inspiration, and encouragement at the United Reformed Church on Wednesday 15th September.

It was motivating to hear from Tomasz Muszynski from Reset UK about some practicalities of the project so that we can see a clear way forward. Then a member of Sussex Syrian Association, Ahmad Yabroudi, spoke movingly about his family’s experience leaving behind a home and a life they loved to come and resettle in Brighton, for a safer future. Ahmad spoke quietly but held the attention of the large audience as he explained why the move had been necessary and spoke of the challenges his family have faced, whilst showing appreciation for the warm welcome they had received. 

Ali Muhammed, from SDRP, then introduced Stephen Louis from a Community Sponsorship group in Wendover, Buckinghamshire. Wendover is a village of similar size to Hassocks so it was fascinating to hear how enthusiastically the community have embraced their new family who arrived, after many Covid delays, just six months ago. Stephen spoke of the support being given to the family; for example English lessons, help with driving and support with homework for the two older children. 

Finally our Chair, Tom Bailey called for more interested people to make themselves known so that we can continue to raise funds, friendship and awareness. He also laid out perhaps our biggest challenge, finding a suitable property at sustainable cost! When our family arrives, in perhaps 9  – 12 months’ time, we will be ready to give them positive start to their new lives in Sussex.

Lively questions were answered and the general buzz in the room left us in no doubt that Hassocks is a great place for this project.

Big thanks to Jenny Weinstein for programming, all our speakers, The United Reformed Church and the 70+ people who squeezed into the Hall!

Photo Credit: Deirdre Huston, Hassocks Life                           

Activity & Fundraising Update

Drum Roll! The current fundraising sum stands at an unbelievable £10,490!

But we can’t afford to get complacent so please help us reach our target of £15,000 by attending our forthcoming events.

Out & About

Twice now SDRP has ventured out  into the community, first at the Hassocks Community Market, then the Hurst Festival, with Ditchling Apple Day to come.

Many who stop at our stall already know us, others want to find out more about the range of organisations such as Care4Calais or  Refugees at Home and more specifically how they can help SDRP, leaving their names, donating money, offering their own skills and knowledge. All welcome a chance to share their concerns at the injustices faced by refugees.

For some it’s deeply personal. One young woman, with her children around her, describes  how : ‘I was a baby in my mother’s womb when she fled Vietnam in a boat.’  A man points to his mother. ‘She was one of the Ugandan Asians, she arrived with nothing.’

Both are pleased to see us, trying to create a different , more welcoming experience for a new generation of refugees.

  • Jeremy Weinstein

Purple Carrot Cafe Commitment 

From the outset Chris Wilson, owner of The Purple Carrot Cafe (on the corner of Keymer Road and Woodsland Road) has been keen to demonstrate his support for the South Downs Refugee Project. Chris already organises many great community events including wine tastings, quizzes, comedy shows and golf days. Chris generously added SDRP fundraising into the mix and has raised £750 from various recent events.

Massive thanks to Chris and all who have supported us at quizzes, comedy and golf!

We Raised the Roof!

It was the morning after our very first South Downs Refugee Project meeting (on Zoom) when the idea for a fundraising concert transpired as something I might offer, and the concept for ‘Raise the Roof!’ was born. Music is something that can bring people together, regardless of race, religion, political belief etc., and this community event would hopefully foster friends as well as funds.
The beautiful, atmospheric and historic Danny House was a perfect setting, and huge thanks to Richard Burrows for donating this marvellous venue.

All my musician colleagues were generously and wholeheartedly on-board from the start. We heard a wonderful mix of jazz and folk – standards and especially composed songs for this event – poetry and Indian classical music. Joss Peach, many-talented musician, played jazz piano for us and we were accompanied by composer and ace double bassist Terry Pack. Mike and Reina Reinstein performed their unique material on guitar, ukulele and vocals. Kate Hogg entranced the audience on flute, alto and tenor sax, and the evocative bansuri (Indian flute). Stunning vocalist Sarah Carpenter (she whistles brilliantly too) and myself were on vocals and I had the role of MC for the evening. There was a surprise guest too – Mike Beckerman on the spoons! We all played our hearts out and hoped for a warm, vibrant and entertaining evening of music to lift the spirit – with a little musical mischief thrown in!

Local business people had also entered into the endeavour and were hugely big-hearted in donating some marvellous raffle prizes. And we had a great team, both from the Project and of volunteers, working together to manage front of house, bar and raffle tickets. 
What a lovely and receptive audience – our thanks to all for coming and supporting! Feedback has been fabulous and encouraging, and here is an excerpt from one letter received:

A huge grey house with lofty proportions appeared, its Gothic-inspired architecture reminiscent of Victorian Tales of the Unexpected….yet a golden light beckoned from an open doorway. The heavy thick wooden door had been opened wide; the warmth of the light dispelled the austerity of the building and a sense of Welcome beckoned people in……And so we all entered…..mostly strangers…..yet gathering as one….

…..and then music began to fill the air…softly at first…then a beautiful voice lifted our hearts; a voice we hadn’t heard for such a very long time, oh so long….and the lyrics of ‘‘Nature Boy’’…travelling the world…yet knowing the best thing of all “was to love and be loved in return”.  There were Songs of Mirth…Songs of Sorrow….Songs of Longing…Sounds of Contemplation…Music of Faraway Places….The sound of One Man and his Spoons…and the longing to be ‘’Homeward Bound”….. And so may we, as a Community, raise enough funds to secure possibilities for just one family…….and remember that ‘drops’ become ‘oceans’.  M.R.

In retrospect, as there was such a huge demand for tickets, we could have put on the show for two performances (more funds…more friends…). So do keep a look-out for ‘Raise the Roof! 2’…

– Lou Beckerman

Our grateful thanks to the following businesses who so very generously donated fabulous raffle prizes for the event:

Budgens  *   Identity Hairdresser  *  Profiles  *  Indigo  *  Bake Out  *  QD Stationers   *  The Hassocks  *  Bowley  *  Mansell McTaggart  *  Bella June  *  Sainsbury’s  *  Waitrose  *  Bryony May Flowers  *  Lainy Hughes Nail Technician   *  Reflex Hairdresser   *  South Downs Cellars  *  The Nutmeg Tree  *  Hassocks Fish & Chips  *  Hobbs Wine  *  Bella & Meg’s  *  Proper Cycling & Coffee  *  Hair Obsession  *  Mike Reinstein Music  *  Village Pizza Kitchen  *  Raw Barbers  *  Sue Collins Art  *  Adastra Deli  *  Clarkes Stationers  *


On Sunday 3rd October we are running a stall at Ditchling Apple Day. This is to give information about SDRP, answer questions and make more friends for the project and Tara from The Garden Spa Eco Salon will also be doign Facepainting from the SDRP stall!  

If any supporter would like to see how this works and lend a hand, please use the link below to sign up to a slot on the stall. You’ll be alongside a member of the SDRP steering group who can show you the ropes.


Saturday Morning Children’s Singing Club
20th November, 10am.

Local musician and music teacher Mike Reinstein is running a singing club for children aged 4-7 years at the United Reformed Church, Hassocks. Mike is a Hassocks resisdent who has been singing and working with young people for over 25 years and works in schools across Brighton and Lonon. 

The session lasts 45 mins and costs £5, with all proceeds going to SDRP!

More information HERE.
For bookings: zaydeh@btopenworld.com

Christmas Ceilidh 
Another date for the diary is Friday November 26thHassocks Village Christmas Ceilidh,  in Adastra Hall and in aid of South Downs Refugee Project. 

Featuring music and dance calling from the Black Cat Ceilidh Band, a bar and raffle, it promises to be an excellent evening for family and friends. Put it in your diary – ticket details to follow (please note the date change – would you believe another organisation are planning a ceilidh on our previous date!)

Eggs Benefit?
Have you ever eaten breakfast at Adastra Deli? Well, very soon there will be another great reason to treat yourself!
Matteo, the owner and chef, has generously offered to hold an ‘Eggs Benefit’ – simultaneously eat delicious eggs benedict and feel righteous  because proceeds will go to SDRP! Details to follow.

By the way, please get in touch if you have any other brilliantly original ways for us to raise money.

All best,

Sally Miller – SDRP Steering Group