By David Skinner

SWR trustee David Skinner is currently in Palestine working as Education Coordinator for Save The Children and the UN. He has sent us this piece, published on ReliefWeb. 

Instead of learning in school, Gaza’s children are forced to learn how to survive bombs and hunger - occupied Palestinian territory | ReliefWeb

David is writing this in a personal capacity and the views expressed in the piece are his and not those of SWR. 


By Steve Shaw

During the recent Families Party event, I had the opportunity to sit down one-to-one with some of the refugees to find out how their resettlement is going and how they are adjusting to their new lives in the Sevenoaks area. All of them said that they are very happy to be here, but the circumstances that led to them having to leave their countries are pretty heart-wrenching.

ID was living in Bucha, near Kyiv, in Ukraine when the Russian Army invaded her country and heavily bombed her town in April 2022. Shortly afterwards, she was able to escape and she made her way to England with her two children. Initially she lived in the Sevenoaks area with a host family. In the early days she used Google Translate to communicate with her host family, but her English has clearly improved greatly in the time she has been living here. Now she is renting her own house in the area, but stays in close touch with her host family, who she said have helped her so much - they even arranged for her children to attend a local school. She is now working as a barista in a coffee shop, and also does some of the baking. She has a lot of friends in the local area now but of course misses her husband who remains in Ukraine.

IS, also from Ukraine, was living in Irpin, near Kyiv, when the Russians invaded. Her house was bombed and she had to leave the area very quickly. She decided to jump in her car, along with her daughter, and they drove all the way to England. The journey took them a week. She has been in the UK for just over a year now, living with a host family, and is very happy that so many people here have helped and supported her – with schooling for daughter and advice on many aspects of living here. She spoke some English at the time she arrived, but it has improved a lot as she has been studying English at Kent Adult Education and via online courses. She is now working as a freelance social media creator.

KD is from Damascus in Syria and he arrived in England with his family in 2019 as a consequence of the war in his country. When he arrived here, via Lebanon, he spoke almost no English at all and he says this was the biggest obstacle for him in adjusting to a new life in the Sevenoaks area. He obtained a UK driving-licence some time ago and has been able to buy a car, which has made a huge difference to his family’s life. He said that he and his family members have received a lot of support from SWR language teaching volunteers in particular. KD’s English is now so proficient that he has been able to take a job working in a local coffee shop.

SM from Sind Province in Pakistan, had to leave her homeland as she is from a Muslim religious group that has suffered persecution. She arrived in England two years ago and was living in a hotel in East Croydon for a year before relocating to the Sevenoaks area. She said that SWR has helped her a lot and she feels blessed to live here and to be able to start a new life without fear of being persecuted for her religious beliefs. In Pakistan she was a teacher and already spoke pretty good English when she arrived, so the language barrier has not been a particular obstacle for her. She has been volunteering as a teaching assistant at a local school. When her children are a little older she said she would like to find a permanent teaching job in a school.

KH from Panjshir Province in Afghanistan, had a dramatic escape from Kabul in August 2021 when the Taliban took control of his country. At the time, he was working in a security role assisting British Forces in Afghanistan. Along with his wife and children he was on the last UK airlift flight out of the country, but local circumstances unfortunately meant that he had to leave his mother and disabled brother behind at Kabul Airport. He already spoke reasonable English at the time he arrived here, but has been continuing to improve it by taking classes locally. He recently passed his UK driving-test and is looking to buy a car, as local public transport options are rather limited where he lives and his daughter’s school is an hour’s walk from the family’s home. KH has several years of experience as a tailor and said he would quite like to start a tailoring business. He is also studying plumbing, so he has a couple of career options lined up. He is very happy with the level of support he continues to get from SWR, which he said is more substantial than that received by Afghan refugee families he knows who live in other parts of the UK.

It is very heartening to receive this feedback from the refugee families that we and hosts have been supporting, because it validates our work and shows that we are on the right track. At SWR we are driven by a desire to help people who have fled war, terror or persecution to build new lives here in our local area. Knowing that the work our volunteers are doing is really making a difference to peoples' lives will spur us on to help more refugee families in the future.

Please note: We’re just using initials in this piece for safeguarding reasons.


At Sevenoaks Welcomes Refugees we are wondering why we’re finding it so hard to recruit new volunteers and trustees to volunteer alongside our wonderful volunteers who put so much effort into helping vulnerable refugees build new lives here, having fled war and persecution in Syria, Afghanistan and Ukraine.


One thought we have is that maybe people in the Sevenoaks District think that the job is completed, and that the task of refugee resettlement is done and dusted. 


But that’s far from the case, and that’s why we really need more volunteers to come forward.


Refugee resettlement is a marathon and not a sprint.


For us, refugee resettlement is all about helping people on their path to independence. Along with our partners in KCC, SDC, STC and Clarion we are looking initially to help people feel safe and welcome, and then to help them build their language skills so they can integrate with their new communities and find the jobs they need to be self-supporting.


Refugees make progress at different speeds. It is difficult to learn a new language, even when the characters are familiar. It is much harder when the characters are completely different. And harder still if you didn’t get even a basic education in your home country and are functionally illiterate in your own mother tongue.


For those that wish to apply for it and have been here for 5 years, UK Citizenship is an important milestone in the path to independence. Sevenoaks Welcomes Refugees will help refugees navigate this process if requested, and we will contribute to the significant costs of application. But we don’t give any advice or recommendations.


Once a refugee gains UK Citizenship they are no longer a refugee, and although we hope to stay in contact as friends we will no longer provide the support assistance (such as language training and small welfare grants) that we do for families en route to this milestone.


The first refugee family that arrived in our area is nearly over this line. In the years ahead other families will be deciding whether or not to apply for UK Citizenship.


The first Syrian families in our area arrived in 2017, the first Afghan families in 2021, and then families from Ukraine in 2022. So even if there are no further movements of refugees into our area, we see a continuing need for support for another 3 or 4 years at least.


And with so much conflict, violence and persecution in the world today, and the prospect of large-scale movements caused by climate change, we think it is quite likely that the UK government will decide to provide sanctuary for further groups in the next few years. And we hope that together with our partners, Sevenoaks Welcomes Refugees will be here to help.


For all these reasons, please contact us to discuss joining as a volunteer. Our current recruitment campaign focuses on 6 high priority roles, but there is a long list of other roles available if you feel none of these is quite up your street. If you’d like to get involved please contact us at


Thank you.


The mayor has chosen SWR as one of her charities, so we were delighted that the refugee families were invited as guests to her Garden Party. 3 Syrian, 2 Afghan and 2 Ukranian families were able to join in the fun at the Bat and Ball Community Centre. This proved to be a perfect venue on such a hot day. A cool indoor hall, and plenty of shade in the garden space. 

The Town Crier took time to explain his role and its history. The Sea cadets had set out games for the children, and all of them joined in with Jenga, skittles, 4 in a row and other traditional games. The young people running them were a delight, and to be commended. 

There was a abundant afternoon tea of sandwiches, cakes, scones with jam and cream.

And then there was the highlight of a magic show from a good friend of SWR - 'Jamie Jibberish' the founder of the charity Magic for Smiles. The children were eager as volunteers and joined in with great enthusiasm. it was so good to see such confidence.

We are very grateful to the Town Council for their support for our work. 

This was a perfect example of a Town of Sanctuary working well. 


During the last week of the summer holidays a group of intrepid SWR volunteers accompanied 2 refugee families to London to visit the Natural History Museum.

Despite the weather and the crowds, a good time was had by all as is evidenced by the comments below from some of the family members:

"Thank you very much for the beautiful trip. It was a beautiful, comfortable and organised trip. Thank you very much for the delicious coffee."

"Everything about the museum was beautiful. I enjoyed everything about the museum."

"I liked the giraffe."

"I loved the blue whale."

"The Natural History Museum is very interesting. We took our children (12,10 and 3years) for a day out traveling by train We spent a whole day there it’s just great. We had a brilliant time in the blue zone and we went to the earthquake event. After that we took a short break in the picnic area. The museum is a place for all the family and will keep all occupied for a long time by discovering ancient times."

"The Natural History Museum is an amazing place. I especially liked the diamonds displaying a variety of colours, the realistic dinosaur display and the footprints of different animals. Great museum with lots to see and do. I suggested it to my friends."


Thanks to the generosity and support of Sevenoaks Welcomes Refugees one of our local families has had a wonderful and productive summer, full of fun and activities. 

The parents are gaining confidence on the London trips although it is quite a challenge on the underground with a buggy and no lifts in many of the stations. 

The children continued attending their swimming lessons during the holidays and have both progressed, one to stage 4 and one stage 3.  They were extremely happy with their certificates and badges.

Sometimes the family teamed up with other local refugee families and their volunteers but often they were accompanied only by members of their own family team. If you feel you could spare the time to support a refugee family in this way please get in touch here


On Sunday 3rd September, for the third year in succession, SWR participated in the 10th Annual Tonbridge Dragon Boat Festival. With a prime position allocated to us by the finish line for us to pitch our gazebo the SWR banners featured prominently under the blue sky and sunshine.


During the course of the day the SWR team competed against 21 other teams and participated in three races, winning all three and on one occasion completing the course in just under one minute.  An amazing achievement but sadly missing out on a top three placing and unfortunately not making it to the final!


Following our first race, Michael was able to provide us with some useful insights to help us improve our performance and how to improve our rhythm and timing (something the writer has very little of) and this resulted in our first sub one minute time in the second race. The drumming provided by Alice and a few motivational ‘Huh’s!!!! also helped shave nearly six seconds off our first race and was our best time of the day!.


Under the expert guidance and training provided by Michael Lee, a former GB Dragon Boat Team representative we came in sixth place out of 22 teams - upsetting a few very ‘serious’ and younger paddlers along the way. One paddler from the opposing team commented “We have been training for five years!” The day's racing culminated in a very close win over our friends from Tonbridge Welcomes Refugees. 


If you have not already donated to our cause it is not too late to do so - here is our JustGiving page. 

You can watch all three of our races here (videos open in Google Drive):



Ever since the launch of the Homes for Ukraine scheme over a year ago, we have known that we would be facing considerable challenges this summer. As you are probably aware, this scheme is different from the Syrian and Afghan schemes in that families are accommodated with hosts, normally in the host’s own homes, rather than in rented properties as is the case with the other two schemes. This was never envisaged as a permanent arrangement although nobody knew at the start of the scheme what the circumstances would be after a year. We now have a much clearer understanding of the position. 

SWR has been aware of 50 of families who have moved here from Ukraine. The first group of 20 or so have not needed much support from us, and we have not usually been involved in helping them to rehouse. The rest of the families fall into three roughly equal groups:

This last group, comprising some 22 individuals across 9 families is clearly the main focus of attention at the moment. The dynamics of the Ukraine situation meant that the families arrived at more or less the same time and will therefore be reaching end dates at the same time thus concentrating the problem into s short timeframe. It is well-known that affordable rental properties are very hard to come by in Sevenoaks, especially in the town centre. In addition, all but one of the families in this group  were living within 3 miles of the town centre with jobs and children at schools there too. Quite understandably the individuals all had strong aspirations to stay in the area. There was however no reason for us to suppose that it would be possible for these aspirations to be met and we began to set expectations accordingly. It is difficult to overstate the impact on wellbeing for the families of having to be relocated elsewhere. 

We have therefore been amazed and delighted to be in a position whereby every single one of the 22 now has suitable rental accommodation in place or firmly identified. In all but two cases these houses are in Sevenoaks town with the other two being in Tonbridge and in Chislehurst (both in line with the families’ needs). The reasons for why this has come about are, I think, important to understand. Two families have moved to rental properties owned by their hosts. In both cases the host has had sufficient confidence in the family to forego, for example, the need for a guarantor. The other houses all reflect the ability of SWR to network and spread its message. The houses all came from friends of friends as it were. The reputation of SWR has been strong enough to overcome an innate reluctance of landlords to rent to refugees receiving housing benefit. SWR have helped massively in two other ways. The houses are all unfurnished but have been furnished extensively from donations from our supporters (in addition to the £250 per person received from the council). SWR has also been in a position to pay deposits and to make specific grants of money in the case of particular hardship.

Taken all in all this is a remarkable achievement.  We are very grateful to all the hosts, the SWR volunteers and the donors of money and items, and our partners at Kent County Council, Sevenoaks District Council and Sevenoaks Town Council who have enabled this collective effort. 

Simon Evans, July 2023   


I knew about a supportive group of local people helping refugees when a close friend decided to offer his services as a language teacher. As the descendant of refugees myself, I didn’t want to host an Ukrainian family but wanted to be useful in other ways. I contacted Sevenoaks Welcomes Refugees (SWR) and was invited to a coffee group to find out more. The recruitment process was very straightforward. I am a teacher and a Governor at a local school and therefore receive regular safeguarding training.  I have not yet done any further training with SWR.

I became a family lead for SWR on September 1st and I’m very glad I signed up. I’m supporting an Afghan family, mum dad and 4 young sons.  Their life has been challenging for the last year as they negotiated hotel living. They spent 6 months in central London and then 6 months in Canterbury. They know they are the lucky ones as there are still so many stuck in hotels.

My family had 2 rooms for the 6 of them - pretty tough with 4 boys. It’s no wonder they spend too long on their devices. The eldest two boys did attend school in each location and speak some English. They are very behind in learning their numbers and their alphabet as they have had such patchy schooling. Dad is softly spoken but does speak English. Mum learnt English at school in Afghanistan and understands more than she can say. Hopefully, she will start English classes herself soon once we negotiate the challenge of two small boys at home all day. Communication is hard, I do text them and sometimes I get a reply. Otherwise I tell them when we are coming and hope they are there. The family have not yet understood the concept of being on time. Although there is a steep learning curve and of course, I am only at the start of the journey.

The family I am working with are delightful and grateful. I’ve found the trustees to be supportive, endlessly patient and always willing to help. Happily, I am in touch with the other family leads who have wrapped their experience and care around me.  I have a team -  all new like me, who are also making the journey go much more smoothly.

There is loads to do but of course it’s one step at a time. My team and I are taking on the role of being a good neighbour. I hope we are making a difference to our new family.


Sevenoaks Welcomes Refugees is helping refugees now in Eynsford, Swanley, Weald, Ightham, Kemsing, Otford, Wrotham, Knockholt, Crouch, Chipstead, Hextable, Knockholt, Godden Green, Orpington, Platt, Ivy Hatch, Ide Hill, New Ash Green, Stone Street, Shoreham, Well Hill, Riverhead, Wrotham, Wrotham Heath, Badgers Mount, Seal, Underriver, Well Hill and Sevenoaks town. We are looking for more volunteers. If you would like to get involved, please contact us via our Volunteer pages here.




This Syrian vegetarian cookbook has just been published and it’s full of the exotic flavours of the Middle East. For those looking for healthier ways to eat, this is a little gem. It also has a fascinating backstory. 

The Syrian Spoon is the result of a collaboration between the charity Sevenoaks Welcomes Refugees (SWR), Sevenoaks School and two Syrian refugees who have been able to start new lives in the town with their families as a result of the charity’s fundraising and support work.

With Love from Mouna and Khaled

Please read the blog below.


The recipes in the Syrian Spoon all come from two former refugees - Mouna and Khaled. Mouna grew up in a village in Syria and has been cooking since she was 12 years old, learning her skills from her mother. Khaled learned to cook in a cafe in Lebanon and spent time as a cook in an upmarker restaurant in Dubai.

How they both came to be refugees and ended up in Sevenoaks is a long and heartbreaking story, but it’s lovely that they’ve brought their culinary knowledge and the flavours of Syria with them to share with all of us.

Syrian Vegetarian Cuisine

Syrian cuisine is heavily influenced by the country’s history – over the centuries Syria has undergone conquests by the Arabs, Persians and Ottoman Turks, so the traditional food is quite similar to that to be found in the Levant, Lebanon and neighbouring Middle Eastern countries. 

What’s Inside?

The 62 page cookbook is divided into 5 sections, and includes a selection of appetising salads, sides, main dishes, complementary dishes and desserts. 

From falafel to stuffed peppers and from “mahalabia” to “konafa”, there’s something to suit every taste. Several recipes really caught my eye, including a dish of oil-cured aubergines called “maqdous” (which can be kept for about 6 months) and “kawaj”, a Syrian summer vegetable medley, served with rice and yoghurt salad, which sounds ideal for eating outside on sunny days

This is a very accessible little cookbook. Many of the recipes are accompanied by a photograph of what the dish being served should look like, a list of ingredients (including the appropriate measure of each), a “What to Do” explainer with easy step-by-step preparation instructions, and a serving suggestion. Those dishes which are served with a sauce, a cream filling or a scented syrup, for example, have extra preparation guidance. 

It’s pretty hard to imagine a cookbook with clearer instructions. The one minor gripe I have is that there’s no index page which you can scan and quickly find a particular recipe, but this is really a very small inconvenience.

In case you’re wondering whether you’ll be able to get the ingredients for the recipes in this book easily, most of them can be bought locally in large supermarkets. Anything you can’t find should be available from local Turkish supermarkets, or online.

Where Can I Buy It?

The Syrian Spoon is available in the following stores in the Sevenoaks area: Cook, The Chocolate Shop, Sevenoaks Bookshop and Deniz in Seal, or you can buy it online here:

(Additional charge for packing, postage and handling for online sales - see the Empathy Action website for details.)

The price is £12 and all profits from sales of the book go to SWR, who are helping displaced people from Syria, Afghanistan and Ukraine find accommodation and settle into the local community.



SWR volunteer David Skinner is currently working for Save The Children in Ukraine, and has written this piece to share with the SWR network. David worked for Save the Children for 15 years before his retirement, and was asked by Save The Children to get involved in their Ukraine response.  

I thought people associated with Sevenoaks Welcomes Refugees might find it interesting to hear about my experience in Ukraine.

I have been deployed by Save the Children to fill a role in the international response architecture. Essentially to coordinate the various humanitarian actors – UN, INGO, Ukrainian NGO and Ukrainian government – ensure that the impact of the crisis on their education of Ukrainian children is minimised

As you might know, I was with Save the Children for 15 years – in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh, as well as being their Global Education Director. But I retired in 2020 and I had no intention of working for Save the Children again: I figured that retirement should mean retirement. But of course, when I was phoned - out-of-the-blue - I could hardly say no. I had been thinking about how to support the effort in Ukraine. My wife, Libby Ancrum, is heavily involved with Sevenoaks Welcomes Refugees, but I was doing little. So, the opportunity to come out to Ukraine was of course welcome. Doubly so as I would not be Country Director or Team Leader (as I was in Afghanistan, Pakistan or Bangladesh). As Cluster Coordinator I can concentrate on policy, advocacy and coordination and not worry about the supply chain, industrial level HR, or the audits.

I've now been here since early April. I am accustomed to the air raid warnings. We get several a day (the all clear has just sounded on one this morning, for example). When I first arrived, I went down to the bunker dutifully. Now I don't. Few people do in L'viv or Kyiv: the missiles are accurately targeted at military infrastructure. (Of course, in areas of more active fighting people respond with more alacrity).

I spent the first week or so in L'viv. It's a beautiful city. Normally filled with tourists (rightly so) now filled with displaced Ukrainians. My sense then was of a country creating its own myths. It is strange watching news items that are going to be in history books for hundreds of years: the Snake Island resistance to the Russian warship (the cartoon of which is now everywhere you look), the sinking of the Moskva, the lifting of the siege of Kyiv, the ghost of Kyiv, the lifting of the siege of Kharkhiv, the fighting in Mariupol. The city is festooned with Ukrainian flags. The streets are filled with people singing nationalist songs. The sandbags around the statues, the numbers of people in uniform and the air raid warnings all added a sense of jeopardy.

Kyiv was different. When I first arrived here it was empty. Rush hour on a week day felt like a quiet Sunday afternoon. Few cars, few people, few open shops. But what was most strange - and it took me time to notice - there were no children on the streets. None at all. It felt very post-apocalyptic. Now - with the fighting concentrated in the east - the city is filling up again. Cafes are opening as are shops. (It's not completely returned to normal. The Deep Purple concert scheduled for the end of May - and for which we were all excitingly holding tickets - has just been cancelled).

Kyiv was excused the worst damage of the fighting. But the outskirts were badly affected. The motorway to Kyiv goes passed Bucha, the site of Russian atrocities, and there is much evident destruction. The Ukrainians had also taken down a motor way bridge to impede any Russian advance. This is now being rebuilt.

I went into Chernihiv, to the north east of Kyiv, early on. We were the first NGO to arrive after the fighting. It was heartbreaking to see half a dozen destroyed schools and to talk to children, parents and teachers. They have displayed great resilience, but they have clearly been significantly affected, and they were 'only' besieged for four weeks. Kharkhiv has been surrounded for eight weeks, with continuous artillery fire. The situation deeper in the Donbas is even worse. There are going to be significant reconstruction needs: infrastructural, educational, and in respect of mental health (every child in Ukraine will have suffered to some extent). 

The response itself is interesting. The humanitarian actors are struggling to come to terms with a government that knows exactly what it wants and is looking for much more than the sticking plasters. I am not yet 100 per cent clear (I don't think any of us are yet) exactly how best to contribute. That I think is my task for the next few weeks. I have committed to stay until the middle of July.

I hope all is well in Sevenoaks. People with whom I have spoken in Ukraine are of course appreciative of the military support the UK is providing, as well as the civilian assistance. They are less convinced as to why the UK has such a bureaucratic, forbidding and unwelcoming visa regime. I explain that the visa regime reflects the views of the current government and its supporters. Many people in England are embarrassed by it and are actively welcome.

In this context I am proud to be able to talk about the efforts of Sevenoaks Welcomes Refugees



If you’re a private landlord with a vacant property anywhere in the Sevenoaks District that’s currently available to rent, we’d love to hear from you!

Sevenoaks Welcomes Refugees (SWR) is a charity helping to  support and resettle refugee families from Syria and elsewhere in our District. Our work is undertaken under the auspices of the Government’s UK Resettlement Scheme (UKRS). There are vulnerable refugee families in the countries surrounding Syria, and elsewhere, waiting to travel to the UK just as soon as there is a property available here for them. We need to secure more properties locally as a matter of urgency, and to do this we need the support of local landlords.

An Update on Our Work

Thanks to the generosity of local landlords and other SWR supporters, we are currently helping to resettle four families in our District already. We’re delighted to say that they are all doing very well, making new friends and building their links into the local community. The children are working hard at school and their English is improving all the time. 

We've been able to keep our language support programme going (remotely) through the lockdowns, and have been supporting the families also with small financial grants. This financial year, since April 1st 2020, we have spent over £15,000 on refugee support. This includes laptops, tablets, printers, Flash Academy licences for online learning, additional tutoring in mathematics and English, assistance with rent deposit for one individual, travel costs for finding work, and other welfare grants.

Last year, with the kind support of Sevenoaks School, the families were able to publish a fundraiser cookbook called “A Taste of Home” which was full of delicious recipes from Syria. This has proved very popular locally.

With More Landlords On Board, We Can Help More Families

We are hoping to secure at least two more properties this year in the Sevenoaks District and enable other vulnerable refugee families to join the ones that are already here. We are focusing on private landlords because it is important that social housing is kept available for local people in need. 

An attractive package is on offer for any private landlord able to help. We make the whole landlord sign-up process very simple and you will have the security of knowing that monthly rental payments will be both reliable and secure. Rental payments can be made direct to you, or your managing agent, by Sevenoaks District Council (SDC).

Landlord Testimonial

Two Sevenoaks residents have been participating landlords in the scheme for over two years and recently told us this:

"We had heard about the UK Resettlement Scheme and owned a rental property which was becoming available. It seemed a good way to make a real difference for a refugee family seeking a new life in the UK. The support from the council and Sevenoaks Welcomes Refugees has been invaluable in helping the family to settle. These lets are intended to be for the longer term and so landlords avoid all the costs of getting new tenants and the gaps in between lets. We enjoy the stability of the arrangements and the scheme ensures the rent comes in regularly.”

We would be pleased to put you in touch with our existing landlords for a confidential discussion about their experiences with the scheme. 

What Types of Property Do We Need?

How Much Rent Will I Receive?

Monthly rental payable under the scheme is based on UK Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rates. For example, the rate for a 3-bedroom house in Sevenoaks is £1,130 pcm and for a 3-bedroom house in Swanley it's £1,050 pcm. 

In addition, the following incentive payments are paid to the landlord annually in advance by Sevenoaks District Council: £1,500 for a 3-bed and above, £1,000 for a 1 or 2-bed and £500 for a studio. 

Thanks to the generosity of our supporters and donors, SWR may also consider making incentive payments to landlords in addition to the amounts mentioned above. SWR may, for example, be able to make a limited contribution towards landlords’ expenses for redecorating etc.

How Do the Tenancy Agreements Work?

The terms are similar to a normal private tenancy agreement:

Who Will Live In My Property?

Your property will be home to a refugee family looking to rebuild their lives following the terrible experience of fleeing war or persecution. They are currently waiting for approval to travel here when a property becomes available. All refugees are vulnerable, but the families who come to the UK will all have been identified as particularly vulnerable by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). 

Your property will be matched with a family unit of the right size for the property. 

The families will have been screened by both the UNHCR and the Home Office. One of the key elements in the screening process is the need to ensure that women and children are offered safety and will be protected from harm. 

From the moment the families arrive in the UK and then travel to Kent they are closely supported by Kent County Council, Clarion Housing Association, Sevenoaks District Council and Sevenoaks Welcomes Refugees.

What Happens at the End of the Tenancy?

When the family moves out at the end of the tenancy, any claim for repairs or damage to the property would be submitted and paid via the deposit protection scheme.

How Do I Join the Scheme?

We would be delighted to provide any further information you require about the scheme.

If you have a property that meets the above requirements and would like to help a vulnerable refugee family start a new life in the Sevenoaks District, please complete the sign-up form below and we'll be in touch.

Sign up here.

Interested in Volunteering?

Sevenoaks Welcomes Refugees is always on the lookout for volunteers to help with Landlord outreach. Specifically we are looking for volunteers with contacts in the housing sector. If you can help us reach more potential landlords then please get in touch with us at

A WELCOMING Taste of Home 

Eleanor Dewar 

As I sit here on a sunny day thinking about all the wonderful things SWR have done and continue to do, I find myself thinking of the appropriate starting point for this News and Blog section. Should I look toward the hard hitting side of our work or something current about Lockdown? Then my husband asked me whether I wanted lunch and that was when it hit me - food. 

Food is a language of love and sharing. Food brings us together from quick cups of coffee to celebrations and special events. We all have that one food that makes us feel safe or brings back childhood memories. Indeed one of the first memories I have of SWR is at a meeting where someone had brought home-made hummus and I would have happily eaten the entire tray, it was so delicious. 

Food has formed a base for one of our fundraising projects as well, in conjunction with Sevenoaks School, the refugee families have developed a cookbook of Syrian food, A Taste of Home in more ways than one. For starting this News and Blog section we want to welcome you to the SWR family and what better way to say “Hello” than with a recipe. So from our first cookbook here is our offering to you:



For the dressing

What to do

1.     Brush the bread with a little olive oil and toast on both sides in a hot oven for 10 -12 minutes, or until well browned. Rip into pieces.

2.     Add the tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, onion, radishes, mint, parsley and purslane to a large serving bowl. Toss to combine.

3.     In a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, garlic and salt.

4.     Add half of the toasted bread to the vegetable salad and toss to combine.

5.     Just before serving, pour the dressing over the salad and toss well.

6.     Scatter the remaining toasted bread pieces over the salad and sprinkle with sumac.

We hope you will enjoy this delicious salad. Our first cookbook is no longer available but you can buy our latest "The Syrian Spoon", see our blog post above.