Despite coronavirus setbacks Wanstead volunteers raise enough money to sponsor refugee family

Refugee Welcome Wanstead was able to raise enough money to sponsor a Syrian refugee family through t

Refugee Welcome Wanstead was able to raise enough money to sponsor a Syrian refugee family through the Home Office's Community Sponsorship Scheme. Picture: PA/Victoria Jones - Credit: PA

A volunteer organisation in Wanstead has raised enough money to sponsor a Syrian refugee family.

Refugee Welcome Wanstead (RWW)started raising money before coronavirus lockdown to take advantage of the Home Office’s Community Sponsorship Scheme, where a community group can help sponsor and support a refugee family.

The outbreak of Covid-19 made fundraising efforts difficult but the group was able to raise more than £6,000, surpassing the minimum funding needed to apply.

Volunteer Eleanor Taylor said though coronavirus made the project difficult to pull off as the group was not able to meet or hold public fundraisers, it also highlighted how important it was and gave them even more of a sense of purpose.

She said: “The danger posted by Covid-19 in refugee camps is dire.

“The majority of displaced people in the world already contend with underlying health conditions, malnutrition and poor sanitation, worsening the threat of the virus.

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She said social distancing is

“Social distancing is impossible when access to necessities involves standing in queues for hours, and hand-washing is difficult when access to clean water and soap is severely limited.”

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She added the situation is even worse for people who do catch the virus and the chances of them being able to access adequate medical facilities are slim.

“That’s why it’s more important than ever that we keep working to take a Syrian refugee family out of danger and welcome them into our community here in Wanstead.”

Now that the application has been submitted, it can take up to six months to be processed.

Once it has been checked, the Home Office along with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees will begin to identify a family whose needs can be supported.

It is unknown if the six-month window will be delayed because of the pandemic but the group said it is ready whenever it is needed.

Father Gareth Jones, refugee co-ordinator in Essex and east London for the Diocese of Chelmsford is helping to organise the Wanstead project, alongside one in Newham.

RWW anticipates it will need a lot more help and support once the application is approved so if you’d like to join their effort or donate email

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