South Downs Refugee Project has applied to the Home Office to sponsor the settlement of a  refugee family in our village. Whilst we await determination of our application, we’ll take a look at  other aspects of the refugee situation. Today, we share Yaser’s story 

“My name is Yaser and I am from Syria where I was politically active but I had to flee to  England when things became too hot for me. That was twenty years ago when I was 26.  Arriving here I knew not a word of English but I set about learning the language and got a job  as a waiter as soon as I was allowed to work. I always took whatever work was available  while continuing my English studies and also continuing to campaign against the Syrian  regime. I obtained my UK passport in 2006 and support from local charities allowed me to go  to university and qualify as an ESOL teacher. I now work in Hastings on various resettlement  programmes to help/advise refugees and asylum seekers. I have integrated into the local  community and have many English friends.  

Hastings Vigil for Refugees. Image from Hastings SUTR, with thanks.

I came and spoke to the vigil in Brighton when, with a heavy heart, I heard the devastating  news of the deaths of 27 refugees in the Channel. Refugees do not want to leave their home  countries but are forced to flee conflict or persecution. Once here they are keen to work,  improve themselves and make a good life here for their families and I am angry at the hostile  environment that refugees now face, the relentless stream of racist propaganda.  

I was pleased to hear about the SDRP about refugees, a fantastic group of volunteers working  hard to welcome a refugee family into the community/ This sort of project is great for the  community, helping refugees to integrate and helping the community to learn about a new  culture. People then start to build friendships, support each other and value each other’s  contribution to the local community.” 

Yaser in sunny Hastings

If you can support the work of the South Downs Refugee Project, please see our Get Involved page.

Yaser was speaking with Jeremy Weinstein, Volunteer Coordinator for SDRP.