Hello friends, 

Project Update 8th November 2022.

A lot has happened since our last update. We had a lovely time at Ditchling Apple Day in early October and have been working away, refining the roles on the project and drafting our application form for the Home Office. Big thanks to Richard Pulham for his help on the application. 

We have also been blown away by the continued generosity of the community, with significant financial contributions from Hassocks Parish Council, Humanity at Heart, and the congregation of the United Reformed Church, as well as many, many generous personal donations and sponsorship pledges. 

To everyone, however you might have supported SDRP, an enormous thank you to you all.

Spreading the word at Ditchling Apple Day

Home Office Application 
In the next week or so we will be submitting our first application to the Home Office for ‘Approval in Principle’. If granted, it means that the Home Office is satisfied that our project has considered the needs of the family, is coherently structured and resourced to support them, and has the financial means to do so.  We expect to hear about a decision for our approval in principle sometime early in the new year.

Accommodation Hunt

When we receive this Home Office decision we can move on in earnest to our next big challenge; finding and securing suitable rental accommodation in the area, with a minimum lease of two years.

Of course if there are any hot leads out there on a suitable property which may be coming available in early 2022, then we’d love to hear about them! 

Project Roles

We have done some work on allocating more specific roles and responsibilities as we look towards the family’s arrival. There are still a couple of unallocated roles which we envisage becoming very important when the family arrives; Benefits Lead and Property Support Lead. More information on these can be found under Project Roles on our website here, and we’d love to hear from anyone who might want to discuss them further. 

Fundraising Update

As we’ve worked on the project and prepared our application, our understanding of what welcoming a refugee family will entail has deepened. One significant result of this is that we have had to revise our fundraising target to £25,000.

This is due to a combination of factors including the cost of housing in this part of the country, interpretation services, and the likely need for a bespoke ESOL programme. Not to mention the capped total (and recent reduction!) of the benefits the family will be eligible for as they learn English and seek work. 

Critically, we have also decided to commit to support the family for a two year period, rather than the one year specified by the Community Sponsorship scheme. Based on the budgeting work we’ve been doing and the experience of other successful groups, we don’t believe one year to be a realistic time-frame for resettlement without some additional financial (and personal) support. 

Of course an upwards revision is not something we wanted to see, but we’ve learnt a lot in the last seven months since we set our initial target, and we’re committed to ensuring a financially realistic, organisationally robust model so that we can suitably support the family, who will have already endured so much, when they finally get here. 

As of today, the current pot stands at £19,262. With the generosity of the past 7 months, and events and activities already planned for 2022, we feel very confident we’ll get there in due course.

Richard Runs the Brighton Half! 

Huge congratulations to SDRP steering group member Richard Miller who completed the Brighton Half Marathon in support of the project, and raised over a thousand pounds in sponsorship!  Many thanks to everyone who supported Richards run.

Hassocks Village Ceilidh

We’re very much looking forward to seeing some of you at the Ceilidh towards the end of the month, and very sorry to those that were disappointed to find it sold out. There is a waitlist on the Eventbrite page now, so if you bought a ticket but your plans have since changed, please do log on and return them so they can be released to someone who wants to come.  Who would’ve thought Hassocks needed a bigger Ceilidh venue!

Our next Project Update will likely be the other side of Christmas, so wishing you all a lovely festive season.

All the very best for now,
Tom Bailey
SDRP Chair