“Fresh Start” is a new initiative pioneered by Together for Change, seeking to mobilise churches in the Coventry Diocese to both befriend and provide practical support to people from different cultural backgrounds. The Diocese is rich in cultural diversity, with 20% of the population born outside Britain, and the city of Coventry taking a lead in resettling refugees from Syria. Fresh Start will seek to enable people from all cultures to begin anew here, and work collaboratively with churches and other organisations – including YWAM, Carriers of Hope, and the Refugee and Migrant Centre – to facilitate their integration into society.

Although refugees, asylum seekers and migrants receive excellent professional support here, the thing which they often lack is companionship. This initiative will seek to meet this need, and both help to reduce isolation and provide newly-arrived individuals with a warm welcome. To this end, we are going to establish a befriending project, inviting volunteers to sign-up and meet with a newly-arrived individuals/families at least once-a-fortnight and get to know them, support them with their English, and generally be a friendly face in a new city. We are also going to seek to map existing related projects around the Diocese, such as English as a Second Overseas Language (ESOL) classes and community development initiatives.

To encourage the growth of small groups for refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, we are offering grants of up to £500. To find out more about these grants, please visit out funding page or contact Matt Robinson on [email protected], or give him a call on 07443 870617, and he will get in touch with you.

Matt Robinson

Matt Robinson will be heading up this new initiative. Here is a little background information on the latest addition to our team:

Hi! My name is Matt Robinson, and I'm the new Cultural Links Outreach Worker at Together for Change. I was born and raised in Chester, and after studying Politics at Durham University I spent a year as an intern for a church up in Durham. One of my placements during this internship was with a charity called Action Language, who offer free English classes to asylum seekers, refugees and migrants in Newcastle. This sparked a passion in me to work with people from different backgrounds, and led to me volunteering as an English teacher at the Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre once I moved here to work as an intern at the Cathedral last September. I hope to use these experiences to further-strengthen the welcome that churches in the city provide to those from different cultural backgrounds in our city of peace and reconciliation.

Away from work, I'm a keen sportsman and enjoy playing football and tennis, as well as being one of the long-suffering supporters of Chester FC. I'm engaged to my lovely fiancee Ellen, and when we're not wedding planning we love going for walks together with the dogs. I'm really excited to start working with Jet and the team at Together for Change, and can't wait to see where God leads me over the next few months.