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Many of you will have seen the board up on a wall in our activities room which marks our first ten years. On it are phrases like ‘defenders of the world’, ‘friendship’, ‘my family’- it’s a heart-warming testimony to all of the people who have been part of building a very special place of welcome. We are another three years on from that and CARAS very clearly has community at its heart. It’s in our name, for a start, and we work hard to make sure that everyone who comes through our doors is welcomed. We want everyone to be able to feel part of something, and to be seen as an individual with skills, talents and ideas to offer. We celebrate people’s achievements at every level, from starting to speak the first few words of English to gaining a place at university.

 

This year, we worked with Matt Hopwood, an artist who has been collecting stories about love all over the world. He worked with CARAS members including Chickpea Sisters, young people, staff and volunteers to gather stories about belonging. People talked about all sorts of instances in their lives- in Matt’s words ‘stories of connection, small instances, lifetimes, moments, simple, complex, painful, joyous, human, real.’  His project A Human Love Story is a celebration of ordinary lives in all their complexity.

 

We want moments like this to be the very human heart of what we do at CARAS, and of what we all offer beyond these walls. We welcome refugees because we are human, connected to each other, experiencing the highs and lows of life together, and striving to create strong foundations for a thriving community.

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