Dick built a very successful career in health and social care and retired a (few!) years ago. He now lives in Malvern. This is what he has to say about Growing Points which is a cause very dear to his heart.
" My first encounter with refugees was in Huddersfield when I volunteered to help people with basic things such as registering for a GP or getting a bank account. I was struck by how much hidden talent they had - doctors, lawyers, teachers - but most were on benefits and some were driving taxis! And they all had something in common - they wanted to succeed and give something back in the UK!
Here's the thing though - they did not know how to get started. They had left behind their professional networks along with everything else when they sought refuge here. They did not understand how "we do things around here".
I set up Growing Points in 2012 with a bunch of great volunteers with fantastic professional networks who were willing to share them along with sound advice and some mentoring to get refugees started.
We work with agencies such as the City of Sanctuary who "spot" refugees who have ambition and talent. We match them up with one of our volunteers. Together they identify a plan for what they want to achieve - whom to meet; how to apply for jobs; how the "system" works and then we work with them to make things happen. Along the way we have supported teachers, engineers and nurses on their journey out of poverty.
In addition to working with individuals we are collaborating with Leeds NHS Hospitals to recruit refugees as apprenticeships at a living wage or directly as Clinical Support Workers; we aim to roll this out to other Trusts. We also have a programme for Flourishing Families where we will support low income families to lift themselves out of poverty.
Enabling refugees to access employment means they can support their families; their self esteem is increased and they are no longer at the margins of society! But we want to increase our capacity to grow our services more quickly...."
How you can help -
We are a very low cost operation and all bar one of our people are volunteeers - an extra £5k means we can set up a full blown Growing Points community in Leeds and we would be supporting at least 100 people every year through one of our programmes. Yes that's just £50 per person!! Every £5K means we can set up in another community - Sheffield Hull Leicester Birmingham Manchester and Brighton are in our sights!
And here’s some amazing perks for supporting us that you can’t live without
We would love to offer a free holiday in the Sychelles......... but we are not made of money! The three most generous donations get a bottle of bubbly (champagne not lemonade) !
Or how about a free mug to the first 50 people who donate £50 or more!