Volunteers Sue and Elaine from Cotteridge have been getting to know the residents in one of Hope’s asylum houses. “We began by just helping to find furniture for a particular house where it was needed because the female asylum seekers who live there have no money of their own. Since then we have got to know the residents better, shared meals, and helped them to settle in to the area. It has been an insight for all of us.”

Last year they helped purchase a bigger and better cooker so that the female asylum seekers could share meals  more easily, and this led these women to make a community meal at Cotteridge Meeting House for their new friends.

Sue and Elaine are taking it a step further now… probably about 290,000 steps in fact…. as they will soon be walking 110 miles to raise funds for the charity. The walk starts in September 2019 and lasts nine days and covers 110 miles along the River Nene in the east of England.

Hope Projects’ residents are homeless and completely destitute having been refused asylum by the UK Government. They are all selected following scrutiny by a legal expert on the basis that despite the refusals they actually have strong cases. In 2018 over 80% of Hope’s residents had their cases re-opened, and so got the accommodation to which they were entitled. Elaine says “having got to know the women and the very difficult situations that they face, but also having seen their potential, we want to improve their living conditions in other ways.”

Hope Projects women’s support worker Amanda Green explains “Hope’s asylum houses have been very heavily used over the years, and are constantly occupied. So we are delighted that Sue and Elaine will help us to brighten them up and ensure that basics such as essential furniture, electrics and household items are all in place and up to scratch as new refugee tenants arrive.”

Elaine and Sue have asked Friends to create a special souvenir from their walk. A number will paint or embroider messages of hope and welcome onto material rays of hope. The ensemble of all the messages creating a sun artwork to be installed in the asylum seekers’ house. “These people have so many difficulties but they maintain a sense of fun and of hospitality. When my new friend and I look across Birmingham from the Lickey Hills in the evening sunlight, this is my city, and it is also her city now.”

Can you support a refugee in the UK by sponsoring Sue and Elaine in their walking with Hope?