Minutes of meeting of Ashburton Refugees Welcome Group
Thursday 26th November 2015. Quaker Meeting House
1. Present: Nigel Ward, Lucy Lepchani, Emma Brown, Judy Gordon Jones, Judy Marshall, Stefan Batorijs, Sara Andrew, Yaara Lahav (chair), Pip Harris (minute-taker)
2. Specific Apologies: Hilary Townsend, Inge Page, Sophie Pierce, Pete Andrew, Tanmayo Murray-Clark, Tanja Brown, Anna Dunscombe
Ideally a different person will chair and take minutes for each meeting, to spread the workload more fairly. Yaara chaired and Pip has offered to chair the following meeting. Offers for the meetings in 2016 are welcomed.
4. Review of minutes from last meeting (04/11/2015)
4 i. Update on event Friday 20th November: It was very successful. 160 people attended. The refugees from Plymouth were very happy on the way home, and they texted thanks to pass on to all involved.
A great spread of food and drink was donated; almost all was consumed or sent home with guests. The food remaining was taken to St Petroc’s in Exeter.
Although some guests didn’t eat from the buffet, the food on the individual tables was appreciated.
If we repeat a similar event it will be good to talk to the refugee guests to see what was most acceptable/appreciated.
There was only one “unfriendly incident”: a resident in North Street complained that the event was taking place and left of his own accord after a degree of verbal abuse. Thanks to Hilary for her handling of this situation.
In future it was noted that we need to add to the risk assessment a requirement for 2 people minimum at all times on the door, and when escorting “troubled guests” off the premises.
4ii. Money raised: £500 was raised; this was donated directly to the British Red Cross Syria Appeal. Expenses were minimal.
There was brief discussion about the possibility of opening a group bank account. This was felt un-necessary at this stage, as arrangements could be complicated. This decision could be revisited in the future, perhaps considering a small group account such as run by the ‘Halifax’.
4iii. Further donations. St Peter’s, Buckland in the Moor church have donated a very generous £250. £125 has been paid directly by them to BRC Syria Appeal and £125 directly to Save the Children’s Syria Fund.
4iv. Additional Thanks to those contributing to success of the evening:
• Town Council for reduced rental of room
• Giles for providing the sound system and setting it up on the night
• Sands school, for loan of the minibus and petrol to and from Plymouth
• Drivers of the minibuses (Rob and Jo Feloy)
• Music kit (Andy)
• Music during the event – Stefan and Dunstan
• Food coordinator – Anna Dunscombe
• Organisation of food donations from town businesses – Judy M
• MC for the evening and overseeing arrangements – Lucy L
• General organisation and steering group – Inga, Lucy and Yaara
• Meeters & Greeters on the door – team headed by Hilary
• Speech/interview – Sophie and Saif
• Beyond Border Totnes for their support – Jill Lewis
• Photos – Julia Cazola
• Chief Kitchen organiser – Judy G-J
• Cooks and buffet helpers – including Sally McCarter, Sara, Pip
• Sean – staging and use of van
• Hall preparations – Tanja, Tanmayo, Sara W
Food and other donations from:
Best Cellars for reduced price wine
Church’s – various items
Ella’s Bakery – cake
Fish Deli – main course dish
Gifts and Gallery – photocopying
No 14 – wine
Sands School – minibus and petrol
The Ark – various food items
Tidballs – fruit
These people have been thanked on Facebook. Judy will write on behalf of the group to thank them individually [action]
4vi. Sarah Hopkins – update on meeting with BRC Plymouth
This item was carried forward as Sarah was unable to come to the meeting. [action]
4vii. Speaker at a future meeting to talk about “refugee rules”: this was felt to be a good suggestion and would be considered more fully in the future.
4viii. Modern Day Slavery. Information will follow from the Devon & Cornwall Constabulary hosted conference. [action]
4ix. Tanja’s fundraising plan (Chai and Cakes). She is very much intended to do this soon and has already raised £55.
5. Social Media and publicity update
If anyone is interested in a more active role with this in any way, they would be very welcome.
5i. Facebook. There have been various unpleasant voices and a troll (by the name of “Bryan Palmer”. Comments have been removed and the person has been communicated with ‘off-group’. Comments have also been left making reference on other groups’ pages (e.g. Buckfastleigh’s) and they have been removed too.
Thank you to the group admins, Lucy, Yaara and Sophie, for dealing with this behaviour.
All the posters for the evening event were removed on the two occasions that Judy put them up around town. Andy Dudley (local community police officer) is aware of these issues and he was very reassuring, popping by on the evening of the 20th.
5ii. Website. Help welcome
5iii. Email list and management – help welcome
5iv. Twitter. Account has 36 followers. Lucy is happy to help, but would appreciate another person to manage the account/post occasionally as well.
5v. Face to face communications. Perhaps consider the showing of a film in the future.
6. Plans for the future (short and medium term).
A trip to the Plymouth’s ‘Cultural Kitchen’ was suggested, possibly on Friday 4th December. Salome suggested we could join in; Saif and Jill Lewis are intending to go. It would be good if a few people could go. An interesting drama event “Playback” is likely to be part of the evening. Names (Lucy, Stefan) tbc so we can tell them who is coming.
A number of further suggestions were made by the group:
• Plymouth’s Cultural Kitchen (Friday evening), in the North Hill area. There was more discussion as to whether this could be a regular thing – fortnightly? How many people would be appropriate to send? It could be an event on Facebook if numbers weren’t felt to be critical. The visit on the 4th will help inform this.
• A shared Sunday Lunch. Food was felt to be an important sharing occasion. Ashburton and area locals and refugees. Monthly, in different people’s houses, or a number of houses. An offer to host it in Teigngrace with up to 15 people; transport would be needed. Too busy to do this before Christmas, so explore in the New Year.
• Co-host an event in Plymouth; perhaps take food to Plymouth and host an event there with locals and refugees?
• Cook together. Perhaps even create a cookbook?
• Woman’s group (cooking or craft). There might be issues of women being isolated in the house and not so able to practice conversation. Good to share with other women?
• Any event or gathering that would allow practice in English conversation. There is a real need to learn English. Perhaps visit Plymouth and go out to a cafe and chat? Be mindful of cultural expectations and boundaries. Aware of guidelines previously shared on what to talk about, or not.
• Walking. Picnic sharing, brewing tea/coffee on a Dartmoor walk. Grounding and getting out of the city might be welcomed. Pip has a contact at Shallowford Farm (Widdicombe) where we might be welcome to visit. Possible use of Heatree (hut circle could be hired?).
Stefan to look at specific walk and make suggestions in an email.
• Ask the refugees what interaction they’d appreciate. Hold a “forum” to discern what this is. It is likely that they’ll be able to organise this quite easily via their email groups. Rupert Blomfield (Plymouth Red Cross) would be good to talk to and to let know that we are here and willing to help in whatever way would be felt most useful.
Would a woman’s group be welcomed as several have been through trauma and are especially sensitive to the nature of interactions?
Would they like to meet in Plymouth?
Emma will look into making initial contacts to discuss [action].
• Lobbying. This aim of the group hasn’t been a priority, but remains one of our intentions. We could attend local MP surgery, either as individuals (more powerful) or as a group. An individual message is very powerful, much more so than a “cut and paste” paragraph duplication of a group email. Suggestion of an evening where we help each other compose letters. Possible discussion for future.
Date of next meeting:
Thursday 14th January 2016. 7.30 pm Quaker Meeting House.