MAY - Update on the Slaley and Hexhamshire Welcomes project

We have good news! Northumberland County Council has approved our project! You may ask, were they not consulted before we started this? Surely the project could not go ahead without their approval? Surprisingly, NO … and there’s an exceptionally good reason.

Until we could provide evidence of our commitment and proof of our strong and supportive community, then and only then were they delighted to wish us well and give us the green light.

And so, it begins…all our policies are in place and instructive training from Citizens UK (part of the UK Government Community Sponsorship Scheme) will begin in earnest.

Our current total from the Just Giving page is just over £10,000 (thankyou to the Lent lunches) which means we can officially register our application to receive an Afghanistan family/couple/individual into our community, with full support, for a 2yr period. Accommodation is still being sought and fundraising will continue so the current rise of living costs will not impact on the project unnecessarily.

It must be acknowledged that the project has, in media and public interest terms, been side-lined a little (and quite rightly so) because of the tragic Ukrainian circumstances…but in true community spirit and generosity there have been many events and contributions where donations have been freely given to benefit both causes e.g. The Slaley Film Club and the Artisan Market event.

At the time of writing the shared proceeds of the ‘Bring and Buy’ stall at the market, the idea of the group’s supporter Christine Milligan, are not known but are very much welcomed into ‘the pot;’ thank you to her. 

Plans to hold a high summer fund raiser are underway in conjunction with the Slaley WI who have made the project their official charity of the year.

Any accommodation ideas?

Please contact Project Lead Mark Jennings Tel: 07449 879487

News just in ........

Hi everyone,

More good news! The film club showed 'Limbo' , a moving film about asylum seekers on a remote Scottish island on Friday night. If you've seen the film, I think it provides a good account of how not to manage vulnerable people thrown into a foreign culture.'. Slaley and
Hexhamshire Welcomes' model is very different. Our refugee family will arrive with full UK citizenship and full rights to work and live here. We realise that being welcomed and cared for by a community when you have lost your own is vital for a family's recuperation, and that integration will take time but is wholly and demonstrably achievable.  .  

The night raised £173 for our cause -it's just so fantastic. Many many thanks go to Michael and Jean for their support of our project. 

I've just spoken with Mark (hubbie) and Hugh (McKendrick) and they are mission accomplished and are on the return journey back home. They sound in good spirits despite forgetting about the clocks going forward and managing only 4 hours sleep instead of 5 last night! They have helped deliver 5 van loads of medical equipment to a warehouse in Poland.  Their zealous leader (Andrew Dixon, dentist, Whickham) is already talking about doing it all again!

Just a reminder that the Lent Lunch is taking place on Tuesday in the Commemoration Hall from 12 noon. Everyone is welcome, and my pal Tina who is cooking has come up with a delicious meal. Mark and Huigh will be there too hopefully.

Thank you to you all and let's get our family here and settled eh?

Much love,


APRIL A missing key…

We see and hear daily, the continuing horror and misery of over 82.4 million people, forcibly displaced, due to persecution, conflict, violence or human rights violations.

26.4 million are refugees. Afghanistan is experiencing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. Every day is an emergency.

Just a few weeks ago over 50 Slaley and Hexhamshire residents gave an outstanding positive response to an idea, an ambitious plan, driven by community spirit at its best…to become a Community Sponsor group and create a welcome and support group for a refugee family for an initial 2-year period.

Urban and rural resettlements are happening right now, all over the UK. Families and individuals are specially selected by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR); their needs and requirements must ‘match’ what an area and locality have to offer.

This isn’t just going to happen. We must prove our worth by raising at least £12,000 and provide accommodation, practical help and mentoring services. But it will happen!

►We’ve got the beginnings of a skilled ‘task force’ to make it work

►We’ve started our crucial search for accommodation and need help

►We’ve started a Just Giving page:

►We’ve got a partner and lead sponsor - Citizens UK (part of the UK Government Community Sponsorship Scheme launched by the Home Office).

Can we persuade you to join us?

Next meeting 6pm Thursday 10th March Commemoration Hall Slaley

Project Lead: Mark Jennings Tel: 07449 879487

With nearly £7,500 raised in just 5 weeks; pledges and donations in the pipeline and fundraising events being planned, The Slaley and Hexhamshire Welcome project, the Community Sponsor Group offering a new life for refugees, is receiving some very positive attention from groups and individuals.

But the group is missing a vital cog in the machinery of the application: - accommodation. The search is on.  It perhaps needs further explanation. Accommodation is not expected to be freely given….

Landlords/owners can expect to receive rent and legal protection. “The scheme needs to offer a two-year commitment, backed by a shorthold tenancy.  Under the government scheme we are working with, the landlord is eligible to receive Northumberland County Council’s housing benefit rates” explains Project Lead Mark Jennings.   

‘Slaley and Hexhamshire Welcome will have raised funds to help with decorating, furnishing, any minor repairs and if needed could even top up the housing benefit” he says. Thus explained it may be of interest to owners of holiday lets in the area who may consider the project as guaranteeing 2 years’ worth of income rather than being reliant on a shorter holiday period.

There are expected and necessary requirements. “We are looking for self-contained accommodation.  It needs to have its own front door, living and sleeping space and a bathroom and kitchen.  The size of the place will determine which refugee or refugee family we are matched to.”   Who is allocated is not the decision of the Welcome group. The UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees) will allocate a family, a couple or an individual to match the property size and location. Accommodation size is therefore less important than the actual offer of it.

It goes without saying that the ‘welcome’ will be greater and more supportive if the location is central within the two communities, but ‘nearby’ is also suitable. “Given the fantastic number of volunteers who have come forward we feel we can support a family in a rural environment - so many people have offered help” says Mark.

The project has already received tremendous support with the offer of time and expertise as well as money. A few final pushes will allow the GO button to be pushed.

Mark sums it up “I’m really confident that if we can find the right place, we can help a family that is in really dire circumstances just now. So many people have come forward wanting to offer support – helping with transport, health needs, schooling. We have seen the best of our community.”

Details of the Just Giving page:



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