The Syrian Sisters group was started in 2016 to support Syrian women and to help them and their families integrate into life in the UK. The group received some initial funding from Asylum Welcome and has since worked with other local organisations such as Refugee Resource, Aspire and Multaka (which uses the Oxford museum collections to bring together local residents from different backgrounds) as well as with the British Red Cross and Oxfam.
The group has a weekly meeting in Rose Hill Community Centre, with between 15 and 20 women attending each week. English courses have been run by the university, designed for women with babies and small children who have difficulties attending college-based
courses. Syrian sisters has also organised lectures on welfare benefits, jobs and how to organise events and activities for community members and the wider public.
An early and important initiative was a 6 week training in food hygiene which has provided the group with formal certification in food safety. This has enabled Syrian Sisters to provide catering at community events, at Flo’s Café in Florence Park and as the Damascus Rose kitchen in the Old Fire Station. As well as providing some income, it’s a good way for group members to meet and speak with other people. Similarly, members of the group have learned jewellery making from a local resident which they sell on Sundays at the Wolvercote Community Market.