The oldest organisation supporting refugees in York is celebrating its 20th anniversary.
RAY (Refugee Action York) began when a small group of students offered help to Kurdish refugees from Turkey who had been settled in the city. What started as English classes in a church hall has blossomed to become a thriving charity that helps hundreds of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants from all over the world integrate into their new communities. RAY estimates it has worked with more than 800 people from at least 25 different countries since it was set up.
“With the support and goodwill of other partners, as well as individuals who give their time and expertise as volunteers, we now offer bespoke programmes of assistance to anyone who needs support,” explained Carrie Wheater, RAY’s CEO.
The activities on offer include English lessons, referrals to specialist information sources such as Citizens Advice, befriending through volunteers, youth club and youth sports, mother tongue language classes for children and teenagers, and monthly social gatherings with information sessions for the adults, play and arts and crafts for the children and a bring and share meal.
Supporters and partner organisations were invited to a reception and afternoon tea hosted by York St John University this week, while service users and volunteers enjoyed a party at RAY’s regular Sunday event.
“That was such a joyous occasion with guests ranging from some of the original volunteers and families who used our services, to Ukrainian families who have been in York for just a few months,” said Carrie.
Mary McCormack, co-founder and currently Vice-Chair of RAY, ended her speech at the event by saying,
“RAY is proud to be part of the welcome York offers those seeking sanctuary and is proud to have supported over 800 individuals during the past 20 years. Right now, we are looking forward to working alongside partner organisations to welcome increasing numbers of new arrivals to our city in the very near future. No doubt, there will be challenges in the coming months but, I am certain that together, we can continue to work in a way that is welcoming, empowering and responsive.”
Find out more about RAY at: https://www.refugeeactionyork.org/