Alaa Khattab nominated for Community Sponsorship Awards
We are proud to announce that Alaa Khattab, Commercial Consultant at Invennt Ltd, has been nominated for ‘Champion of the Year’ in the the Community Sponsorship Awards which will be hosted on Tuesday, October 8th, 2019 at Canada House in Trafalgar Square. Canada introduced Private Sponsorship of refugees 40 years ago and have since welcomed over 325,000 refugees. They have been instrumental in guiding the UK and other nations as we build our own refugee sponsorship schemes.
I sat down with Alaa to discuss his involvement with the Citizens UK Foundation for Community Sponsorship of Refugees.
Alaa, congratulations on your nomination. What got you nominated for this award?
I think the nomination came from my involvement with the scheme and my efforts to help them expand it in order to help more families. When I started, my main efforts were on helping the community in Devon, by raising awareness and encouraging the communities to accept more refugees. Over the past year, I established a group in Bermondsey that has an aim to warmly welcome refugee families and teach them from my own experience with the scheme.
That’s great work you’re doing. What does it look like to support refugees within the community?
The main effort is to find the right volunteers who are able to support the refugees. When refugees come to the country they need English teachers, benefits experts, someone who knows about the school systems, someone who knows about NHS; basically, everything that a newcomer would need to be able to get settled into the country. We talk to the community and we work to identify volunteers and create a group that is able to welcome refugees. Another aim we have is to talk to the wider community, to teach them about what’s going on in the lives of the refugees and to encourage them to be welcoming.
How did you get involved in Community Sponsorship?
I was connected through a friend in Devon when I was very new to the country because they were working to support a refugee family, and they knew my background in humanitarian work in Syria, and they asked me if I would be able to help support the family. I said that I would love to help, and I got involved in every capacity possible. I was invited to do a speech in Ottery St Mary, which is a small town near Exeter. The speech was about Syria and awareness on what was happening in the country and why we in the UK want to help the refugees, including the benefits of getting involved. I began getting involved in more aspects after that.
What is the benefit of Community Sponsorship?
There are two sides. First, to support the refugees and secondly to empower the communities to be able to organise themselves and create a strong support network where refugees can get the assistance they need. Another benefit is that after having this experience and being welcomed by the community, refugees may choose to get involved themselves and start volunteering.
How can people get involved?
Community Sponsorship is growing now, but it needs more support from people in the communities to help it have a farther reach. Getting involved is as simple as helping refugees do the things that you do in your day to day life. You take your kids to school, you go to the NHS, you register for a doctor. These types of everyday life things seem so simple to us, yet many refugees who are new to the country and who know very little English need help with these things.
In your opinion, how can the private sector be more involved with causes like Community Sponsorship?
The private sector can get involved by supporting members of its team with their goals or supporting with fundraising. Invennt has a good history of supporting charities and I am looking to get us more involved in my initiative in Bermondsey over the coming months.
Interview by Sarah Hall, Invennt Ltd.
To read more about the awards and see the full list of nominees please vist:
If you are reading this and want to help out in your community, you can reach out to the Community Sponsor centre through their website at www.sponsorrefugees.org/what_you_can_do in order to get involved.
Invennt is the UK’s leading specialist construction Business Consultancy. The business was founded by Brendan Morahan and Tim Fitch to help the construction industry get greater value from their investments. The company’s services include business strategy development, productivity & operational improvement, business development and marketing, collaboration and R&D tax credit claims.