A SERVAS REFUGEE SUCCESS STORY
Rosida Simrick was an asylum seeker and was granted refugee status during the summer of 2018. She and another refugee spent a week travelling to four Servas hosts in Scotland. Her travels were funded by Servas. The following is what she wrote in her thank you card to Giles and June Waley, members of Servas Britain: “The most important thing is the warmth of your heart to welcome us and make us feel safe and secure! Thank you to make us feel human again. Servas has changed my life.”
Please read Giles and June Waley’s story about their work below.
Rosida Simrick and another person who has also been asylum seeker visited Servas hosts in Scotland. The travels were funded by Servas members.
SERVAS BRITAIN’S INITIATIVE FOR REFUGEES
By Giles and June Waley, Servas Britain/Scotland
We’re living in a world where there are almost 70 million persons who are either refugees, asylum seekers (RAS) or internally displaced across the globe. Wars in Syria, Afghanistan and many other countries, other violence and persecution has during the recent years pushed worldwide forced displacement to new, abominable high. Do we, the Servas community, with its current and historical focus on peace and the virtues of hospitality, have a special responsibilty to react and activate itself in this humanitarian crisis? We think so, and proudly report that a number of the Servas Britain members have become personally involved in providing humanitarian support to refugees and asylum seekers. Suggestions for Servas involvement to create a subgroup were raised at a Scottish gathering in 2015. At the Servas Britain Annual General Meetings of 2017 and 2018 proposals were presented relating to offering humanitarian support by using the existing Servas network and also helping to meet the associated costs of travelling. The voting was heavily in favour on both occasions. The Servas Britain committee has agreed to allow up to 3000£ per year for this purpose, provided that it is reviewed annually. This is intended for meeting the costs associated with activities, for individuals or groups, as arranged by Servas members. It is further intended that a small group should be appointed to determine the criteria for, and managing of, this funding. Recent examples in Scotland We are aware of a number of occasions when Servas members in Scotland have taken actions to help refugees and asylum seekers directly. These occasions have generally involved Servas members making arrangement for the refugees and asylum seekers to visit their homes and benefit from that experience. Servas Britain has met the costs of the travel involved which have included holidays, respite, temporary accommodation, visits, integration opportunities and cultural exchanges.. Relevant factors In our view the key factors that apply are:
• The Servas membership network is well placed to respond positively to the current migrant crisis.
• Servas values and ethos (in particular relating to hospitality and travel) are at the heart of what Servas members are doing to support refugees and asylum seekers.
• It should be possible for willing Servas members to host RAS individuals and families without requireing them to be members of Servas.
• The benefits to RAS families and individuals are very significant and can be lifechanging. The future Some refugees and asylum seekers may become members of Servas when they are well established and have gained the necessary confidence. It may be that other areas of humanitarian support by Servas may evolve.