In September 2015, a small group gathered in a Tonbridge sitting room. They had one thing in common: stirred into action by the heartbreaking images in their newspapers and on their screens, they wanted to do whatever they could to help some of the millions of refugees forced to flee their homes in Syria and other countries as a result of war.


No one imagined how quickly our group would grow, or how much we would be able to achieve. The response from the local community was wonderful, and Tonbridge Welcomes Refugees has gone from strength to strength.


We work with the borough and county councils to welcome refugee families arriving in Tonbridge and Maidstone, supporting them as they settle into the community. We support refugees arriving under the government resettlement schemes for Syria, Ukraine and Afghanistan, amongst others.


We have a team of dedicated volunteers teaching English to these families. We also help to fund activities for children, courses or exams for adults to help them access work, laptops, allotment fees, and much more.


Alongside this we visit local schools to teach children about refugees, and work with local charities to collect clothing, household items and other much-needed items for local refugees families.

Meanwhile we work with local groups and run events to raise awareness about our work and the challenges refugees face. In July 2017, Tonbridge Welcomes Refugees became a registered charity (charity number 1173758).


However, the scale of the global refugee crisis remains overwhelming. Tonbridge Welcomes Refugees is needed more than ever, and there is so much more we can do to empower refugees arriving in Tonbridge to rebuild their lives.


How many refugees are coming to Tonbridge?

Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council agreed in autumn 2015 to resettle a minimum of 10 households from Syria over five years. In 2019, it was announced that when the five years of this scheme comes to an end (in 2020) it would be replaced with a new global resettlement scheme.


However, in March 2020 all refugee resettlement flights were put on hold due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.


Budget cuts have hit the council hard, and it needs to know there is support for welcoming refugees. By coming together and pledging our help, Tonbridge residents can help the council to accommodate the refugees it has already promised to take. We particularly need help from local landlords.


Volunteering your support now will help us to help them rebuild their lives.

Like us on Facebook or follow @TonRefugees on Twitter for regular updates.

Find out more about our safeguarding and policies here.