Every June, Croydon celebrates Refugee Week, with various local events across the borough. This year the theme was healing, exploring what it means to heal from trauma and the ways we can support each other. Christine from Croydon Voluntary Action applied to the Alpkit Foundation for support towards a project to help tap into the outdoors and that would also tie into the week.
“Our project wanted to introduce refugee and asylum seekers on the sports programme to the countryside. Participants were given the opportunity to get outdoors, walk and socialise in order to improve their physical and mental health and increase social integration. Participants came from Afghanistan and various countries around the world, where they have experienced significant trauma. We planned in some gentle family walks and more adventurous walks for the single adults.”
With a lot of their activities taking place indoors or in local parks, there were no real opportunities to travel outside of Croydon since arriving in the UK and living in initial accommodation. So to help expand what they could offer, support was needed to hep with transport to more rural areas outside of Croydon.
“This year, our team of refugee Activators wanted to include a trip out to the countryside, to hike through the South Downs and enjoy the impact of the fresh air and wide-open spaces on their physical and mental health. Studies show that green spaces can have a protective effect on our mental well-being, helping us to recover from stress more quickly and experience less depression. The Activators spoke to other asylum seekers living in initial, temporary accommodation and found out that many had a strong desire to explore the coastline and the sea.”
The Alpkit Foundation was pleased to be able to support this project and help them hire a coach to take a group of asylum seekers living in 5 hotels and hostels in Croydon out for the day.
“First, we travelled to the South Downs, where the group spent several hours walking across part of the beautiful South Downs. We then arrived at Brighton Beach, where the group enjoyed paddling at the seaside, eating lunch and making lasting friendships and positive memories and starting the healing process.”