Goodbye from Ayham, Programme Coordinator at Reset
Ayham Alsuleman, our Programme Coordinator, is moving to an exciting role at the Greater London Authority where he’ll be working on building Community Sponsorship across the London region. In this blog, Ayham tells us why he first joined Reset, what he enjoyed about the role here, and what his hopes are for the future of Reset and Community Sponsorship.
Why did you take the job as Programme Coordinator at Reset?
In my neighbourhood in Syria, I was always involved in community work. My friends and I set up a charity called Local Neighbourhood. One of the things we did was provide support for people who had to flee from other neighbourhoods to ours. We sheltered people in our local school. It was brilliant how people were coming over, dropping food, dropping clothes and helping people to get their lives on track. I think this is when I first encountered ‘Community Sponsorship’ – just in a different form.
I heard about the Community Sponsorship programme while I was doing my Master’s degree here in the UK. I was so excited by the idea of strengthening communities through welcoming refugees. It combined the two areas that I cared most about: supporting refugees and empowering local communities.
I got involved with my local Community Sponsorship Group, Herne Hill Welcomes Refugees, as a volunteer, which is how I heard about Reset. I saw Reset had a position available for a Programme Coordinator and when I clicked on the link for the job advert there was an article about a local group in Herne Hill including a picture of me…. If you were superstitious, you might say it was meant to be.
What was working at Reset like?
It was actually even better than I expected. I genuinely enjoyed working for Reset. I’ve never lost interest in my work here.
Reset has a unique position working as the bridge between central government, local government and local communities. This means that I’ve been able to combine high-level strategic work with civil servants and other key stakeholders with travelling all over the country to support local people on the ground.
Travelling across the UK was actually one of the best aspects about working at Reset because everywhere I went – London, Edinburgh, Manchester or little towns in remote parts of the country – I got to meet people who were completely committed to welcoming refugees.
What are you going on to do now?
I’m moving to the Greater London Authority (GLA) where I’ll be working on refugee resettlement and Community Sponsorship in particular. The GLA is working on the Mayor’s Social Integration Strategy, and part of this strategy is growing Community Sponsorship in London. This is in recognition of the great impact that Community Sponsorship can have in London and on Londoners.
At the GLA I’ll be building a sustainable model for Community Sponsorship in London, working with Reset, the Home Office and lots of other organisations. My aim is to contribute to transforming Community Sponsorship into a genuinely civil society led programme that generations can inherit from each other, with the community possessing the knowledge and the resources they need to make it work.
What are your hopes for Reset and the Community Sponsorship movement in the future?
My hope for Reset is that it continues to do the work it’s doing to support Community Sponsorship Groups because this work is really needed if Community Sponsorship is to be sustainable into the future. The scheme is already working way better than it did 2 years ago, but of course there’s still more to be done.
As for Community Sponsorship in general, I want to see more families resettled, better integration outcomes, and more communities coming together. I just love how Community Sponsorship connects people to each other. I’ve met people who, through Community Sponsorship, have become friends with their neighbours for the first time. I’ve met people who’ve got to know the owner of their local shop after years and years of doing their shopping there.
I want to build on this because I think it’s something we really need in London. We’ve seen the reports about how many people in London feel lonely. Community Sponsorship can be a way for Londoners to create new bonds and transform communities.
Is there anything else you want to add?
Although I’m leaving this role at Reset, I’m not leaving Community Sponsorship. I’m really looking forward to working with London’s Community Sponsorship Groups in my new position.
Goodbye from Ayham, Programme Coordinator at Reset is also published in Reset UK on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.