Mim Wickett is Tenth's Refugee Support Co-ordinator and is a friend to many. All names in this story have been changed to respect confidentiality.
At the best of times, newly-arrived refugees are vulnerable to social isolation and lack of support services, all while coping with significant anxiety and trauma. And in the current context of physical distancing, with the doors of the city essentially closed, it has the potential to be disastrous to at-risk asylum seekers.
The core of the Tenth refugee support ministry is our twice-monthly community dinner where a gathering of people of various ages, cultures, and faiths meet together to share a meal, celebrate milestones, and provide a network of support. In-person gatherings stopped over a month ago but there was great interest in continuing to meet virtually, so we switched to community “dinners” via Zoom to try and reduce the effects of social isolation.
The results have been quite unexpected. By popular request, we increased the frequency and each week we meet several new attendees who have found this platform to be the ideal way to make new friends and maintain important social lifelines.
Here are some of the stories:
Although we all miss the amazing spread of ethnic food that we enjoy together, it seems that meeting online may actually be accessible to a wider group of people looking for contact and support.
Over the weekend was the beginning of Ramadan, and during this month of fasting Muslims will find it difficult to be without friends and family to eat with after sundown each night. We’ve moved our weekly online gathering to 10 pm as a result. More unexpected bonuses? Social events in pyjamas!
P.S. Special request: Moving school to an online platform has made it difficult for many refugee families without computers at home. Donations of laptops would be very welcome at this time. If you are able to help, please email [email protected].