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Lottery boost for refugees in Sandwell

Brushstrokes volunteers sort food

A unique project that gives vital help to vulnerable and destitute refugees is delighted to secure a Lottery grant that will help keep it running.

For over 15 years, Brushstrokes Community Project have supported refugees and migrants living in extreme poverty in Sandwell, Dudley and West Birmingham. In recent years Government cuts, coupled with a surge in the number of people seeking help, have placed great demand on their services.

Now, thanks to the Lottery funding, Brushstrokes can not only continue their existing services, they will be able to expand, supporting more people who desperately need their help.

The cash boost means they are recruiting more staff and volunteers, creating great opportunities for local people to get involved. Father Hudson’s Care, as one of Brushstrokes’ founding partners, is supporting with the recruitment process and advertising the job vacancies on their website.

Some of the people who come to Brushstrokes are very vulnerable. They are often alone or isolated, unable to understand the language or culture and have nowhere to turn to for help. Many have come to the UK fleeing war, torture and persecution.

With no access to public funds or services, they face homelessness and extreme poverty, placing already vulnerable people at further risk. With Brushstrokes’ help, they can turn their lives around.

Brushstrokes give practical help, giving out food, toiletries, warm clothing and bedding to people who have nothing. They support with finding housing and in 2015 they found accommodation for every single refugee looking to be rehoused in the area. Their most requested item is the Bump Start Baby Pack, which provides essentials for the first three months of life. Developed with health professionals, the packs have cut infant mortality rates among the most vulnerable newborns.

/media/news/library/esol-polling-station.jpgThey provide English lessons, which are crucial in helping people adjust to life in the UK. At a time when local colleges are cutting classes and Government-funded lessons aren’t available for the first six months after arrival, volunteers from Brushstrokes step in to provide basic English skills at a crucial time.

They also run cookery classes, creative workshops and befriending, as well as giving advice on topics ranging from employment skills, to budgeting and from counselling to supporting parents of disabled children to access vital health care.

 

Brushstrokes are the only service in the area that offers such comprehensive support, covering so many aspects of life.

Teresa Clements, project manager, said that she is delighted to receive the Lottery funding. She said:

“for refugees in the area, support from a project like Brushstrokes is essential. Our services prevent hunger and homelessness – they save lives. The extra funding will mean we can support more people who desperately need help.” 

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Thanks to the funding, they will be able to expand their English lessons to include conversational English and specialist sessions such as health screening. They will expand their befriending service which offers advice, guidance and friendship to include a telephone support service. Through this, they will be able to reach more people, while still supporting the most vulnerable people face to face.

Brushstrokes also offer training, guidance and support to charities and groups that support refugees. The funding will allow them to increase this support, meaning that other groups and their clients will benefit in turn.

The staff at Brushstrokes can only provide support thanks to the dedicated volunteers. They are looking for extra volunteers so they can deliver these crucial services, by teaching English, becoming a befriender or helping distribute food and clothes. The practical resources rely on donations from the public. Anyone interested in volunteering and anyone who can help by donating food, clothes, blankets or other essential items should contact Brushstrokes on 0121 5652234.

To find out more about jobs available at Brushstrokes, visit our vacancies page.

Brushstrokes is a partnership project between Father Hudson’s Care, the Infant Jesus Sisters and the parish of St Philip Neri that has supported asylum seekers and refugees in Sandwell and Birmingham for over 15 years. To find out more about their work, visit www.brushstrokessandwell.org.uk.

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