Whitehead group commended for work to welcome Syrian refugees

Jeni Mcaughey,second on the left, with the other shortlisted candidates.
Jeni Mcaughey,second on the left, with the other shortlisted candidates.

A retired GP has received national recognition for her pioneering work to welcome a Syrian refugee family to Whitehead.

Jeni Mcaughey was commended in the Volunteer of the Year category at the first Community Sponsorship Awards ceremony in London.

Under the Government’s Community Sponsorship Scheme, local groups take lead responsibility for supporting a refugee family in their neighbourhood.

It allows Syrian families who are currently living in a refugee camps in the Middle East to come to the UK through a safe and legal route.

Around 140 community sponsorship groups have now formed around the country, and refugee families are arriving through sponsorship on an almost weekly basis.

Jeni founded and leads the Small World Community Sponsorship group in Whitehead. It has raised thousands of pounds and found a house for a family, who are expected to arrive in early 2019.

The group will continue to support the family by assisting them settle, find schools, English classes and jobs.

Jeni said: “I was delighted and humbled to be commended at this prestigious awards ceremony. I see the recognition as a tribute to my colleagues in the Small World Group in Whitehead, who are all volunteers and who have all worked very hard.

“The wider community in Whitehead has also shown great generosity and support for our project to bring a Syrian refugee family out of a war zone to the safety of Whitehead.

“We have submitted our application and hope to be welcoming a refugee family early in the New Year.”

The Small World Group was established with help from Sponsor Refugees, the Citizens UK foundation for sponsorship of refugees in the country.

Tim Finch, director Sponsor Refugees, the Citizens Foundation for Community Sponsorship, which organised the awards, said: “Jeni is an inspiring individual who has given so much to get a community sponsorship group off the ground in Whitehead.

“I know it hasn’t been easy, but she combines strength of purpose with great diplomacy and has remained determined to see this project through.”