Refugee family one step closer to being welcomed in Hackney

The fundraising event was hosted at the Downmarket bar

The fundraising event was hosted at the Downmarket bar. - Credit: Herbie Russell

A family of refugees is one step closer to being welcomed into the Hackney community after a successful fundraising event. 

The event, held last Thursday (October 7) at Hackney Downs Studios in Lower Clapton, saw the launch of a community sponsorship group, a government-sponsored route for refugee families to come to the UK with the support of local people.

The scheme, UK approved since 2016, allows community groups to come together and take responsibility for the welfare, integration, and financial support of a migrating refugee family.

The group will raise £20,000 for the family, find them housing, education, employment, and generally smooth their integration into everyday life.

The fundraising event was hosted at the Downmarket bar and 80 people enjoyed the free pizza and drinks that were also on offer. 

Olivia Clark, a 30-year-old refugee lawyer from Sydney living in Stoke Newington, was one of the event’s organisers.

She said that, although more than 150 families have been resettled as part of the scheme, this is the first time a project has been led by young people. 

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“It was incredible,” she said of the event. 

“There were lots of young people who knew about the Afghan crisis and wanted to do something but didn’t know what practical steps to take. 

“So everyone was super enthusiastic.” 

But there is still a lot of work to be done.

They now need to establish a core group of volunteers, organise more fundraising events and, most importantly, find a Clapton house to accommodate the family.

Finding a house with affordable rent is one of the biggest challenges support groups face. So, they are on the lookout for a landlord that Olivia says “is prepared to do a good thing for the community”.

The Government is committed to taking 20,000 Afghan refugees.

The Government is committed to taking 20,000 Afghan refugees. - Credit: Herbie Russell

The government will then select the family from an existing resettlement list based on the size of the house the group finds.

The refugee family could come from a number of countries. However, Olivia explained that, given that the government is hoping to resettle Afghan refugees through the scheme, “it could very well be an Afghan family”.

Following the UK’s withdrawal from Afghanistan the government has committed to taking 20,000 Afghan refugees through the Afghan Citizens’ Resettlement Scheme.

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