Not for Profit

Grants of up to £5k available to groups supporting refugees and asylum seekers in Dorset

By Sam Pither [email protected]

Published: April 2, 2024 | Updated: 2nd April 2024

A Dorset Community Foundation fund for groups helping asylum seekers and refugees build new lives in the county has reopened for applications.

Dorset Community Foundation logo

The Dorset Welcome Fund offers grants of up to £5,000 to voluntary groups and charities which are helping refugees and asylum seekers of any nationality arriving, residing or settling in Dorset.

It is being supported by contributions of £50,000 from Dorset Council and £30,000 from BCP Council, along with Dorset Community Foundation fundholders.

Dorset Community Foundation grants manager Ellie Maguire said: “The activities we’d like to fund should focus on supporting wellbeing and getting refugees and asylum seekers involved in community activities.

“They could include community events and activities to combat isolation, wellbeing projects adapted or targeted towards refugees and asylum seekers, cultural heritage activities for children and young people, services to support improved mental health, advice and advocacy support, activities supporting English language skills or routes into employment and volunteering or providing practical items such as clothing, bedding or mobile phones.”

New groups established for less than six months can apply but will only be eligible for a maximum grant of £2,000.

Last year the fund, which was inspired by the plight of Ukrainians fleeing to the UK in the wake of the Russian invasion of their country, awarded more than £80,000 to 18 projects across the county.

Among the recipients was the Shaftesbury Refugee Group, which supports refugees all over North Dorset. It used a £4,000 grant to help Syrian and Ukrainian families with English conversation lessons, subsidised transport, help with training and learning to drive and organising get togethers.

“The grant has been extremely enabling and we have been able to use it to support Ukrainians in situations that were difficult for them,” said trustee Stuart Twiss.

“We were able to offer Homestart grants to families who had come here under the Homes for Ukraine scheme and were moving into their own places. The grants helped with the cost of moving and buying second hand furniture. What it does is tell the refugees that there are people behind them, there’s support and there’s a connection to the community.”

Citizens Advice Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch, used a £4,000 grant to set up an advice clinic at Bournemouth Library for refugees and asylum seekers to drop in and seek help with navigating the immigration system. “The clinic is completely confidential and does not limit the number of times a client may return for further advice,” said head of operations and service delivery Tom Lund.

Treads in Blandford, together with the Friendly Food Club, were awarded £7,900 to run cookery and activity sessions for young Ukrainians and young people from the town.

Senior youth leader Libby Lloyd said: “It focused on integrating Ukrainian young people, their families and local young people, by learning and engaging in the Ukrainian culture, particularly food. It helped show the Ukrainian community that they are welcome in Blandford and that the local people are interested in them and their culture – and break down some barriers.”

Bridport Community Shed worked with the town’s multicultural group on a project to create a community bench, thanks to a £3,000 grant.

Safe and Sound in Bournemouth used a £5,700 grant to run fortnightly sessions for Ukrainian mums and children to meet together at its café. Manager Dot Pickett said: “It encourages women who may be isolated in their homes to come together while their older children are in school.

“Many want to get together with other people in similar circumstances to them, to have the time, space and opportunity to see others from their country and to create a support group and network to help them heal from trauma and integrate into their new country.”

The foundation’s chief executive Grant Robson said: “Last year we were thankful for the support of Dorset and BCP Council to help us support projects that showed people fleeing for their lives a warm welcome to Dorset and provided practical, compassionate help in starting again here in our county.

“The councils have recognised how well the grants were used last year and been good enough to back us again this year and we know there will be no shortage of applications from grass roots community groups and charities doing similar amazing work.”

Find out more about the fund and how to apply at dorsetcommunityfoundation.org.

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