Hello friends, 

With a month now passed since we launched the website and started to spread the word in earnest, it felt like a good time to write a quick update to thank you for your interest in the South Downs Refugee Project (SDRP), and give you a bit of an update on progress thus far.

Of course it’s been challenging to start this kind of thing without any face-to-face activities and public meetings, especially as the long-term success of the project will depend on building up a strong group of local supporters and volunteers and raising the £15,000 we will need to make the project viable. So as social distancing restrictions are lifted, we’re really looking forward to the opportunity to meet up in person, and want to share the dates and information for some planned events and activities in the Summer and Autumn where we hope we will meet you.

Upcoming Activities and Dates for the Diary: 

 Hassocks Village Market – Saturday 24th July

SDRP will be running an info stall at July’s village market. Come down and say hello between 9am and 1pm. If anyone reading this is interested in helping on the stall then please contact Jeremy: jeremy.a.weinstein@btinternet.com  

Raise the Roof – Saturday 28th August – Danny House, Hurst

You may have already heard about the fundraising concert planned at the end of August. Featuring local singer Lou Beckerman, Joss Peach and friends, the evening promises to be a warm and vibrant evening of jazz and folk, along with a bar and raffle.

At time of writing there are only around 20 tickets left!  Available via the website: www.southdownsrefugeeproject.org/raisetheroof

If anyone would like to help promote and / or on the night then please contact Lou: loubeckerman@btinternet.com  

‘Launch’ meeting – Wed 15th Sept
Somewhat delayed by social distancing – we’re now thrilled to be holding a launch meeting. Come and hear about how welcoming a refugee family has worked in other places and join a discussion about taking the project forward.  This will be an opportunity to make contact and learn more about SDRP.  
Wednesday 15th September 7pm-9pm at the United Reform Church 23 Keymer Rd Hassocks

If anyone is interested in helping organise this public meeting please contact Jenny: weinstein.jenny@googlemail.com    

The Hassocks Ceilidh – Saturday 13th November – Adastra Hall

We are planning a fantastic evening of traditional irish music and dancing featuring the Black Cat Ceilidh Band. In a Ceilidh the dances are all led by an experienced ‘caller’, and are suitable for anyone and everyone to get involved and have fun. We’re really looking forward to adding this event to the village’s annual programme of events. More info to follow in due course! 

If anyone is interested in helping sell tickets in the lead-up or perhaps on the bar or raffle on the night, please contact Sally: sallymarimiller@gmail.com 

In addition to these four events, our friends at The Purple Carrot Cafe are also organising a quiz night, comedy night and bike riding event over the coming months, in support of SDRP. Keep an eye out on our website and Facebook page for more info on these as they come online.

Fundraising Update:

The project has got off to a fantastic start and as of today the current total for on and offline donations stands at just over £3,500, almost 25% of our fundraising target!  A huge thanks to any and all of you who have donated, and encouraged others to do so.

Current donation links:

  • Our Just Giving Page, of course.
  • There’s also a ‘2 hills and 3 mills’ 10 mile sponsored walk taking place this weekend. Starting small with two families, but which we hope will turn into an annual event. More info on the walk, and sponsorship of Matilda and Rufus and Otto & Jemima on these links.

Accommodation hunt: 

Finally, I can’t write this update without sharing a paragraph or two about the key issue of accommodation.  Finding a suitable property which the family will be able to afford beyond the direct financial support period of the project is key to ensuring that they can settle here and become self-sufficient. Achieving this vital step, particularly down here in the south east, will be a real challenge. 

Of course we will be pursuing links with the local authority and local housing providers, but I would also like to encourage any and all of you to keep an ear to the ground for that philanthropically minded landlord who might be interested in a secure guaranteed 2 year minimum lease, tenants who will have a ready-built local support network, and of course the opportunity to really make a difference to the life of a refugee family. Any ideas, leads, or possible contacts gratefully received!

I think that about does it in terms of an update. A final thanks again to all of you for signing up, supporting, donating or simply spreading the word. There’s plenty of work to be done, but what a fantastic start! 

I think that about does it in terms of an update. A final thanks again to all of you for signing up, supporting, donating or simply spreading the word. There’s plenty of work to be done, but what a fantastic start! 

Tom Bailey – SDRP Chair