Looking back at 2016…
In 2016, we worked with over 300 individuals offering a wide range of support. In addition to all of our regular activities supporting refugees and asylum seekers we did all of this:
In January we formalised our Fundraising Working Group, a highly dedicated group of volunteers who have helped give direction, advice and expertise throughout the year.
In February we ran our first of nine highly successful and enjoyable Family Activity Days, bringing families together for creative, inspiring, fun (and free!) activities.
In March we got a custom-made data management system that has revolutionised our ability to keep accurate records and easily track progress and change for everyone who comes to us.
In April we began to trial various ways of carrying out effective case work so that all of our beneficiaries can access timely support for a whole host of worries. We now have caseworkers available at all of our regular sessions.
In May we welcomed Carrie, our ESOL coordinator. She has been increasing our provision of English classes for all age groups, supporting volunteer teachers to develop thoughtful and engaging lessons that are able to adapt to an extremely wide range of learning needs.
In June we took part in building ‘Border Control’ a concept garden at Hampton Court Palace raising awareness of the refugee crisis across Europe and achieving coverage in the Evening Standard and The Guardian. We also built an enormous strawberry planter with friends and volunteers from Tooting Transition Town (TTT).
In July, we visited The Grange, a highlight of our summer activities for young people. We took care of ponies, harvested vegetables, cooked together, explored the countryside and took the opportunity to deepen friendships.
In August, we ran our annual strategic review, with staff, trustees and volunteers meeting to review progress in our work, evaluate impacts, and set the direction for the rest of the year.
In September, our Youth Council started to form. Young people ran a consultation to hear from each other how they wanted to be supported, and now meet regularly to take action on all of the issues that affect them. They input into all of CARAS’ decision making.
In October, we welcomed our first ever fundraisers, Etienne and Peter. They are helping us diversify our income, reach out to a wider network of people, and keep CARAS running.
In November we presented at a children’s rights enquiry at the Houses of Parliament, and spoke about our incredible team of volunteers at the annual Balham and Tooting Community Association celebration.
In December we completed our first ever attempt at mobilising support through online votes for our ‘Gardens of Refuge’ project which ties together our work with TTT and The Grange… and in January 2017 we received the news that we have been successful!
We are looking forward to another busy and exciting year in 2017, full of opportunities and success. We are moving forwards with our plans to run inter-generational activities, increasing our provision of English classes, and expanding our provision for adults to match the range we offer for young people. Thank you all for your efforts in helping us with all that we do.