Annual General Meeting of KCRS members
We held our first AGM on the evening of June 17th. All Saints church, Kingston Market Place, kindly provided a venue for the meeting. Charity Commission regulations make it compulsory for us to hold a general meeting of all members annually so many thanks to the KCRS members who turned up to ensure that the meeting was quorate. The meeting gave members an opportunity to put any questions prompted by our formal annual report and accounts. This being our first AGM, our constitution required that all trustees stand down and put themselves forward for re-election should they wish to do so. In the event all the existing trustees put themselves forward for re-election and, in the absence of other nominations, the AGM approved that they continue in post.
Following the conclusion of the formal AGM business the meeting was addressed by Rabbi Janet Darley, who spoke of her experiences working with the Safe Passage charity to bring child refugees to safety in the UK and working with the Lambeth Refugee Welcome Group to help that borough resettle refugee families. Rabbi Janet also spoke of her hope that a similar Refugee Welcome Group might be developed in Kingston – more on this below.
Progress towards sponsoring a refugee family
Our fund-raising has gone well. There have been some very generous large donations from organisations and individuals and thanks are also due to KCRS members and supporters who have attended fund-raising events or signed up to give a small donation monthly via the Kingston Community Refugee Sponsorship page on the Local Giving website (https://localgiving.org/). Although these amounts may be individually small they do add up over time to a very useful sum of money for supporting our first refugee family.
The Community Sponsorship scheme requires that we have a detailed written plan for resettling refugee families and that this be approved by Kingston Council. We submitted a draft plan for their approval and were asked to resubmit with a more detailed statement of our data protection policy, meaning the steps we will take to ensure the confidentiality of personal information. This we have done and so hope to soon receive approval from the Borough, at which point we will be able to apply for Home Office approval.
Once we have Home Office approval then we will be urgently looking for accommodation. We have already received some offers of property available to rent but the KCRS trustees have decided to wait until we have Home Office approval so as to minimise the period during which we will be paying rent on an empty property.
Continuation of VPRS and Community Sponsorship schemes
The Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme, set up by the UK government in 2015, targeted the resettlement of up to 20,000 refugees displaced by the conflict in Syria. The scheme was initially planned to last until 2020 but in June this year the government announced that resettlement would continue after 2020 wherever local councils were able to offer to receive families. In that same announcement the government confirmed that the Community Sponsorship scheme would also continue.
A Refugee Welcome Group forming in Kingston?
Following a meeting last Autumn between the leader of Kingston Council and a group of local faith leaders, most of them KCRS members, Rabbi Janet Darley has been coordinating efforts to support the Council in its resettlement of refugee families arriving in Kingston under the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (VPRS).
So far, this support has consisted mainly of collecting (good quality) donated furniture and other household items and putting these in place in the accommodation that is due to receive a VPRS refugee family. Councils receive a fixed sum of money to resettle each family so the use of donated items allows some of that money to be used in other ways to support family members.
The efforts led by Rabbi Janet are, strictly speaking, independent of KCRS but many of the people she has been coordinating are KCRS members. As the work of her group develops we shall keep you informed of any other opportunities that might arise for welcoming Kingston’s refugee families.
Please save the date
Following the success of our fund-raising quiz night in December 2018, we are planning to hold a similar event on Saturday October 19th. Hope to see you there!