Five years of Tonbridge Welcomes Refugees!

Five years ago this month, as the global refugee crisis dominated the headlines, two wonderful local women, Fiona and Joh, met for a coffee for the first time to talk about what could be done in Tonbridge to welcome people fleeing war. This was the beginning of Tonbridge Welcomes Refugees.

So much has happened since.

  • We welcomed our first Syrian families to Tonbridge. Now we help about 11 refugee families in and around the town and in Maidstone, most of whom arrived here under the government’s Syrian Vulnerable Persons’ Resettlement Scheme.
  • We’ve built relationships with and continue to work closely with local county and borough councils, support workers and sister charities Tunbridge Wells Welcomes Refugees and Sevenoaks Welcomes Refugees. We have also worked with RefugEase, Empathy Action, the Worldwide Tribe, Citizens UK and Safe Passage.
  • Our amazing volunteer English teachers have given invaluable support to many of the families as a vital supplement to the official ESOL provision – this is probably the single most important way we can help.

We have also:

  • organised community events with music and speakers, and taken part in others such as the fabulous Tonbridge Calling;
  • run assemblies in local schools;
  • provided one-to-one mentoring support for a number of young refugees and asylum seekers;
  • organised and given lifts to social gatherings, medical appointments and outings;
  • given talks at local churches and community groups;
  • rowed dressed as ducks in the Tonbridge Dragon Boat Race;
  • given interviews on local radio and publicised our work in the local press;
  • donated bikes, toys, clothes, household items and much more to local refugee families;
  • funded children’s activities such as football clubs;
  • just been there, whenever we could, to drink coffee and provide listening ears and friendly faces.




We’d like to say an enormous THANK YOU to the many volunteers, landlords, supporters and friends who have played such an important part in our journey so far. Let’s celebrate this milestone!

In these unprecedented times, the global pandemic means that our support currently has to be a bit more socially distanced than we would like. But we are still here. And there is plenty more to do.

Can you help us carry on and make sure Tonbridge continues to welcome refugees for the next five years?

5 ways you can help right now:

  1. Set yourself a challenge to raise funds, or sponsor the team walking/running/cycling #TWRmilesforrefugees this autumn.
  2. Set us up as your Amazon Smile charity so we get a donation every time you shop!
  3. Drop us an email to find out how you can help support a refugee family as a volunteer;
  4. If you’re in a position to, please consider setting up a monthly direct debit – regular giving really helps us plan effectively what support we can offer now and in the future:
  5. Do you have an adult’s bike in good condition you don’t need any more? Or a microwave, or a small freezer? We’re always looking for items like this for our families. Get in touch if you’d like to know how you can help your pre-loved items go to a new home!

And for an extra bonus…..share the love! Please share our posts, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, tell a friend about us, raise awareness and challenge all the misinformation out there about refugee and asylum issues – it all helps.

Tonbridge Welcomes Refugees

Thank you! And here’s to the next five years….