The trustees and organisers of the recently established Refugee Kindness – North Wales charity are currently in delight and disbelief in equal measures after receiving the news that not one, but two funders have approved their funding applications.
Having only been registered with the charity commission less than a year ago, after the concept of helping refugee and asylum seekers families through the donation of re-usable items immediately took off, the organisers (all of whom work full time) have been desperately seeking funding to enable them to continue to run the charity.
Due to the organisers all being in full time employment, and after having experienced turnover amongst volunteers, mainly due to other commitments, it became clear that they could only survive with the appointment of a salaried manager.
After a few attempts to secure funding, they sought assistance from Sarah Easedale, a reporter from BBC Wales who helped them publicise their plight, after a few short weeks, sufficient private donations were received to enable the existing volunteer manager to be appointed on a short term contract. And then, the phone rang…
The founder of the charity, Rachel Watkin, said, “it was uncanny, I immediately called the number back as the number was nearly the same as that of my late grandmother, so I was intrigued. The phone was answered by Emma, Laura Ashley’s daughter. She was very humble and as she no longer uses the Ashley surname, I didn’t immediately make the connection, but I soon came to realise what a small world it is.
“Emma told me that she had seen our campaign on BBC News and, even though they usually support the arts, the Ashley Family Foundation would be interested in helping us. She asked us to submit an application.
“It felt like fate that the Ashley Family would come to our assistance due to the unusual family connection. Interestingly, in the middle of last century, my grandparents ran a gentleman’s outfitters in Rhayader – the town in which the Ashley family resided. Whilst Laura Ashely herself created beautiful fabrics and fashion garments for sale (and which were purchased by my mother and her sisters) Laura Ashley and her husband would shop in my grandparent’s shop for mens pyjamas and comfortable slacks (trousers).”
An application for funding was pulled together by the Refugee Kindness – North Wales team led by Bid Manager, Kristin Meredith Galley.
The award from the Ashley Family Foundation, together with funding received from the soon to be announced second funder, will provide a yearly salary for our dedicated charity manager, Jordan Hughes, and enable the charity to employ an assistant manager whose role will be to concentrate on volunteer recruitment and deputising for the Manager due to the rapid expansion of the charity that now supports over 70 families across North Wales.
Jordan has worked tirelessly to manage the programme, recruit and assist volunteers and offer her support to beneficiary families since she took on the role of manager, initially as a volunteer in 2021. She has encouraged beneficiaries to become involved in the local community by showcasing their talents in textiles work, cooking, art and writing. A number of the beneficiaries are also volunteering their time to help with organising donations and interpreting when needed.
Refugee Kindness -North Wales is totally delighted with the funding from the Ashley Family Foundation which will not only allow the charity to survive for a year while further funds are built up through fundraising and donations, but it will enable the charity to do so much more to improve the lives of the refugees, asylum seekers and others of equivalent need who have been resettled in the North Wales area.
One of the beneficiaries stated:
“We are people who have to step into a second life for any reason. This is a very difficult situation for every person. You leave behind your parents, the house you were born in, the friends you played with, all your memories. It’s like rehearsing for death or as if he’s never lived before…Anyway, it wouldn’t be right for me to prolong my own troubles!… Refugee Kindness – North Wales … is a very good system for those who give and receive help. The donor is not proud, …it is also like another family….you have established a systematic and disciplined system. And I want you to know that this is reflected in your organizational goals as well. Thank you to the entire Refugee Kindness – North Wales team, especially your sponsors and volunteers, and happy Christmas. I hope your charity continues.
(translated from Turkish)