Our ‘Meet and Greet’ family support sessions happen every Tuesday lunchtime at a Youth and Community Centre based in central Birmingham. In 2016 an average of 27 individual children and 23 adults attended each session (These statistics do not include the children of some of our volunteers who are asylum seekers).
2017 promises to be just as busy. Children housed in initial accommodation are not attending school so our meet and greet offers some respite to families living in cramped hostel accommodation.
During the session we organise a programme of play, sports and arts activities for children We have a pool of around twenty volunteers supervising activities alongside the BIRCH Volunteer co – ordinator and a staff member from The Children’s Society. We also have a team of volunteer cooks, kitchen helpers and individuals assisting in the distribution of donated clothes, toys, books, toiletries and other essential items.
Every four weeks we hold bread making workshops organised by the Bread2share project. The ‘Meet and Greet’ session is supported by Birmingham MIND who have a dedicated worker and volunteer supporting anyone who may have mental health or well – being issues. In 2016 we had visits from a local barber, a masseuse (head, hands and shoulder massage) and a visit from student beauty therapists who did make-overs for women.
For 49 weekly sessions in 2016 we recorded 1361 child visits and 1131 adult visits.
This gave newly arrived asylum seeking families the opportunity to play and do activities together during an extremely stressful period of their lives.
They were able to bake bread together with their family.
Families also benefited from essentials from our resource bank.