John meets the first refugee family we settle in the UK

Tuesday 22 June 2021, 3:50pm

I am at terminal 2 Heathrow and the arrivals board shows the flight from Jordan has arrived. Yes I felt a few tears run down my cheeks, after months of preparing the family of 2 adults and 4 children aged between 1 and 10 were in the UK having left a refugee camp in Jordan 14 hours earlier.

We drove the family to Birmingham in a Minibus and even though they were very tired there was a buzz of excitement as they viewed England for the first time. I was accompanied by an interpreter who answered all their questions. The big downside was explaining how they would be spending the next 11 days in isolation and not being able to explore their new neighbourhood.

When we arrived at the house there was much happiness as they saw where their new life would be beginning in a nice 3-bedroom house.

We gave a quick guide to the house and decided it would be best to leave the technical stuff until they had a good sleep and rest.

Wednesday 23 June, 6:00pm

The following day I arrived at the house with the interpreter to start explaining the important things like how the oven works, the washing machine, the hot water etc. Unfortunately, at this stage the family speak no English and one of the first two questions from Dad were: “When can I start English Classes?” and “How long will it be before I can start work?”

Thursday 24 June

I continued to visit the family on most days during the isolation and sorting out their covid tests was a very important job, thankfully our amazing Doctor Liz Bates took control of that.

Isolation seemed to drag on for ever and ever.

Saturday 3 July

Their freedom arrived, and we all set off for the bus stop to go shopping. Just imagine your first trip on a double decker bus!!!

We walked up and down the high street looking at the shops. Then the time came to hit Lidl’s and do a week’s shopping. This is when I realised how lucky I am to have a car. Carrying one week’s shopping back to the buststop and then back to the house is a major logistics problem. It was decided very quickly that 2 shopping trips a week would be best.

Thursday 8 July

It is now 16 days since the family arrived and they are amazing. On Tuesday we had teacher arrive to start the first English lessons and it was great. The family have been watching YouTube English lessons to ready themselves.

There is so much I could report so I will keep updating you on how things are progressing.

John Sloan

Share this:

Related stories

Join Our Community

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

There are so many things you can do to support refugees. Sign up now and be part of our global community of volunteers, activists and people who care.