Wanted: One Syrian family to join a thriving Redbridge community

PUBLISHED: 07:00 03 October 2017 | UPDATED: 07:53 03 October 2017

Naomi Clifton, Faheed Ramzan, Teresa Ward, Ruth Musgrave, Claire Marshall and  Gemma Constable are backing a project to bring a Syrian family to Redbridge

Naomi Clifton, Faheed Ramzan, Teresa Ward, Ruth Musgrave, Claire Marshall and Gemma Constable are backing a project to bring a Syrian family to Redbridge


As millions of Syrian people flee their homes and seek refuge, a group of churches and mosques is looking to welcome a family to Redbridge.

The group - known as the Redbridge Community Sponsorship Partnership - have set themselves the task of “adopting” a Syrian family into the community.

Led by the Redbridge Islamic Centre (RIC), the project is supported by Ilford Methodist Church, Balfour Road Mosque, Ilford Salvation Army, South Woodford Mosque, St. Thomas of Canterbury RC church and Wanstead Quakers.

Activism group Redbridge Citizens and Redbridge Council have also backed the idea.

Faheed Ramzan, of the RIC, said he was delighted to lead on such an enterprising scheme.

He said: “At RIC we feel it is our obligation and duty to help those who are vulnerable.

“We got involved in this project to help bring ease to those affected and to relieve them of their difficulties.”

The community sponsorship scheme, which was launched by the government in 2016, allows groups of residents the opportunity to take the lead in welcoming a Syrian family.

The project is aimed at refugees in the greatest need, including survivors of violence and torture, people needing urgent medical treatment and women and children who are at risk.

Ahead of sending in their detailed plan explaining how they will support a family, the group hope to have raised £9,000 which will help cover expenses.

So far they have held sponsored film nights in church grounds and a recent Eid celebration raised more than £1,000 in one day.

As part of their application, members also have to demonstrate how they will ensure they can provide all that the family need, including housing and support.

They are still currently appealing for any landlords in Redbridge who can rent out a three bedroom property at housing benefit rate to get in touch.

Captain Naomi Clifton, of the Ilford Salvation Army said she hoped the family would be embraced by the population of Redbridge.

She said: “Arriving in a new community can be really difficult, even when you’ve not had to go through the trauma of leaving your home in a war-torn country.

“Community sponsorship means that a refugee family will be given a warm welcome and lasting support as they build their new home in a place of safety.

“It’s a privilege to work together with other faith groups to be a part of making a real difference in the refugee crisis.”

Currently the RCSP is recruiting befrienders who will help the family settle in and help them to feel part of the local community.

This includes helping them register at the doctors, introducing them to community groups and to services like English classes run by Redbridge Institute.

Ruth Musgrave, of Vine Church, said she got involved with the project after hearing about the crisis nationally.

She said: “We have all seen pictures of refugees fleeing places of conflict like Syria and our hearts have gone out to them as we recognise their need for safety and shelter.

“You may have wondered what you could do but felt powerless to know what.”

Qaiser Malik of South Woodford Mosque added that members were determined to welcome a family with open arms.

He said: “This programme gives a sense of community participation and self reliance instead of a government led scheme where decisions are handed down.

“After the vote to leave the European Union and the negativity reflected by some groups, there was a need to show that we British are inclusive people”

If you are interested in becoming a befriender, then contact the group by emailing

If you can help provide a property, fill out this Google form here.

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