Entraide, a charity set up in 2010 by Felix Kupay, aims to respond to the growing refugee and asylum-seeking needs in Solihull and the West Midlands.
In a cramped and crowded office space within Chelmsley Wood Baptist Church lies the heart of Entraide’s operation.
Felix, someone who understands what it’s like moving to a foreign country, saw a need for the charity:
“I came to the UK in 2004, having left the Congo due to political unrest.
“I completed an MA in Social Policy at Birmingham University and during my studies I tried to understand the immigration process and the problem people face when coming to this country.
“I found that mainstream services and big organisations didn’t have a full understanding of the process. I set up Entraide to respond to the need.
“We provide a wide range of services across all the stages of the asylum process.”
Marietta, from Great Barr, has been volunteering with the charity for a year.
“I befriend two families, I try and visit them once a week. I try and integrate them into the local area, I’ll take them to the park, go swimming or help them if they need to speak to a doctor. Anything really, but I just try to keep them company, break their week up a little!
“I love seeing their faces, the families are so happy and welcoming, it’s amazing to see them active in the community and I just want them to feel welcome.
“It can be very alien to them, it’s so far from home. I don’t want them to hate it, I just want them to enjoy it.”
Out of all the benefits Marietta sees language is one of the biggest:
“There’s always a language barrier but sometimes it’s fun! Their English really improves, hopefully it’ll keep improving as there are so many questions I want to ask!
“Over time they gain more trust with myself and the charity, we do events where all the refugees can come together and they’re so positive and this really helps.
“My goal has always been ‘If I can make a difference in one person’s life then it’s worth it.”
Entraide supports around 450 clients a year from 30 different nationalities, having been funded multiple times by the Foundation their latest grant came from the Harry Payne Fund.