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Oxfam Tooting and the Sewing Room

WWR is excited to begin a journey with Oxfam Tooting as it becomes the first shop of Sanctuary in our Borough. Oxfam Tooting has a strong structure which works to individually and collectively welcome and provide a safe haven for refugees. It links with Community Action for Refugees and Asylum Seekers (CARAS), Transition Town Tooting and WWR to expand its commitment and activities.

The shop provides extensive training to all staff on issues relevant to refugees, including abuse, mental health, trauma, diversity and inclusion. It also offers work experience to volunteers, currently 34, with around half of them from a refugee or migrant background. Many have come through the partnership with CARAS.

Transport and lunch costs are covered, which helps the refugees to volunteer and take advantage of the training. All are warmly welcomed and trained in line with the 'Volunteer Induction and Retail Training' manual, which includes refresher courses. Inductions to paid and volunteer staff can be supported in many languages, with 11 currently spoken in the local shops.

The life experiences of refugees and migrants is appreciated and celebrated. The shop looks to find ways to consult with refugees and learn other ways to make opportunities and provide support. The shop's central location in busy Tooting is ideal for the events it will hold to raise awareness and celebrate refugees in our area. As a lead hub, the Tooting shop can play a key role in helping other Oxfam shops in the Borough become a Sanctuary.

The Sewing Room

An exciting project at the shop is the Friday sewing morning, where keen women sewers and stitchers come together to create and share their work. Several skilled Afghan sewing experts are regulars. One day a refugee arrived wearing an ill-fitting winter coat from a charity shop. By the end of the morning, it had been unpicked and remade to stylishly fit the wearer. It’s a buzzy, friendly place which will welcome new refugees and supporters.

WWR appreciates the time taken by Oxfam Tooting to show us the range of their activities and we look forward to celebrating its Sanctuary status early in 2023.

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