Your local area is a subject in which you and your Group members are likely experts already! As enthusiastic as you may be to show your local area to the resettled family, remember that a key part of this project is empowerment with the goal of helping the family to gain access to the area independently. You can find out more about empowering the refugees you support in our Introduction to Empowerment and Integration resource.
How will you empower the resettled family to gain access to local shops, transport links, and understand the fare system? (3.5a)
Think about those little things that can catch you out: is there a day of the week on which buses don’t run? Or on which they run according to an altered timetable? Which places are closed on Sundays? What time of day do most shops close?
Something Groups have found to be useful is to explain the cost of taxis in the UK as the family may be used to relying on affordable taxis in the Middle East for transportation. Research whether there are discounts on public transport in your area for those who are on benefits, and think through how you will explain how to use the transport systems. A great model is to use active learning – on the first trip, a Group member accompanies a family on the bus, explaining what they are doing with paying fares, using tickets/pre-pay cards, knowing where to get off and where to sit/stand. The next journey, family members can pay for their journeys with a volunteer on hand to assist, and the journey after that, the family members could lead the whole process.
How will you help the resettled family to become acquainted with local markets and shopping customs? (3.5b)
Think about how the UK’s shopping customs may differ from where the family come from:
- Will the shops’ opening times be different?
- Are they likely to know the difference between food shops like Aldi and Waitrose?
- Will they know about the carrier bag charge?
- Where are they most likely to access culturally recognisable food?
- If the family members are practising Muslims, are you able to point them to where they can purchase halal products? (don’t forget that online options are available)
What other plans do you have to support the resettled family during their first weeks after arrival? (3.5c)
You can create a timetable of activities for the first few days and weeks to visit points of interest with the family. Some key places to consider visiting with the family are food shops, banks, cash points, post offices, pharmacies, the GP surgery, places of worship and recreational spaces. You may want to include some of this information in your Welcome Pack. You won’t need to show this timetable to the Home Office in your application; but is a helpful tool for you to have.
The following weeks could involve accompanying the family to other areas or activities depending on their interests.