Meeting up with Walking With
Some Tyneside Welcomes members have been fortunate to be able to talk to another Resettlement group (SponsorUK) in Newcastle to find out a bit about their experiences and those of their Syrian family. We also met 8 Syrians who have settled in North Tyneside over the past 3 years who told us how it has been.
Some of the Syrian families arrived from Jordan, where they had lived for 7 years, others from Lebanon. Most have families have at least 3 children.They want to make a better life for their children. Most did not have much English but made learning it a priority. The Newcastle family had been housed by a Resettlement group in a house in the western suburbs of Newcastle and the NT families had been resettled by the Council. All of them are friendly and have found their neighbours friendly and supportive. They love the North Tyneside schools.
The families were exhausted when they first arrived. They were keen to contact family members left behind to let them know they had arrived safely: they got wifi and prepaid sims set up straight away for this purpose. Watching Arabic TV was a priority for them too. The children needed something familiar to watch for the first few days when everything was so strange. Some found the weather very difficult to get used to. Others found the de-regulated bus ticketing extremely confusing and the wait to see a GP very frustrating.
Most of the children were able to start school immediately.This freed the adults up to attend English classes.The first month was very intensive - contact every day with a support worker and an interpreter to deal with business things, benefits, education etc. The families craved friendship and are very sociable. Joint meals together were organised as well as visits to the Job Centre, Arabic shops, Lidl, Argos. Bus and metro routes, their way to and from the schools and around their local area were important to know in the first few weeks.
Post first month
The families were visited once a week and accompanied to the beach, the Grainger market and Quayside. They were left to settle in, allowing them to become more independent, and to build their own friendships.
The families appreciated the Resettlement group as helpers and liked working in partnership with them. They were very keen to manage their budget from the start and wanted to know how much things would cost and how much they might be able to save. All have resettled here very successfully and have been able to access support agencies where necessary.
All the fathers had a trade of some kind which they were keen to put to use: one was a chef and has recently got a part time job as a chef; there are electricians, plasterers, painter/decorators, hairdressers, carpenters and dressmakers. They all want to contribute to their new Geordie area.