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21 May 2018


Welcome to ’Sam’s Space’

Image: Samantha Airs, Community Engagement Coordinator, Armidale

As a first order of business, I’m very happy to announce that the overwhelming response from the Armidale community has been to welcome, include and support the newly arrived Yazidi families. Members and groups within our community are eager to work alongside SSI to support them, and we’ve now got a great group of Armidale locals trained up as official SSI volunteers to help whenever they’re needed.

Over the past month, since starting in my role as the Community Engagement Coordinator for SSI in Armidale, I’ve met with a number of community groups and civic leaders. These have included members of The Salvation Army, Sanctuary, Aboriginal Lands Council, Reachout for Refugees Armidale and the Armidale Men’s Shed. Again, I was blown away by the outpouring of generosity and support of every one of these groups and some fantastic initiatives were discussed which I’m keen to follow up in the coming months.

On the 2nd May I attended the New England Multicultural Interagency Meeting. There was a lot of interest concerning settlement of the Yazidi community by those that attended. Jennifer was able to provide plenty of insightful and detailed information to the attendees, and I was approached by numerous community groups and support services to discuss creative and collaborative ideas with regard to supporting the newly arrived families. Those ideas included music and writing groups, environmental activities and a range of welcome events.

Planning is also underway for the Staging Post screening during Refugee Week on the 20th June. Armidale Regional Council, Belgrave Twin Cinema and SSI are working closely together to make this a night to connect and share stories of community. Keep an eye out here and on SSI’s social media channels linked at the bottom of the ‘In the Loop’ e-mail for more details as they become available.

A final point I’ll make is in expressing the appreciation that the 15 newly arrived families feel towards the welcome they’ve received, and the overwhelming generosity from the public. Donations of furniture, clothing, blankets, toys, books and household items are being received and stockpiled by community members. I am currently working with Helen Larkin, The Salvation Army and other charities to develop a process so items are accessible to families.

That’s all for now, stay tuned for more SSI updates in the near future.

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