Burma meets Malham though People and the DALES

February 2, 2010

In 2004 the Home Office agreed to accept up to 500 refugees a year under a resettlement programme run by the United Nations. Under this scheme some of the world’s most vulnerable refugees, including many who have lived in refugee camps for years, are given a safe route to the UK and granted indefinite leave to remain.

Described by the UN as one of the most persecuted minorities, some 250,000 Rohingyas (a Muslim ethnic group) fled from Burma (also known as Myanmar) to Bangladesh in the early 1990s, and have lived in tented camps ever since.

Judy Rogers, community worker for the Trust, recently took a group of 13 Burmese women, who have recently resettled in Bradford, on a trip to Malham as part of our People and the DALES programme. It’s thanks to People and the DALES that many refugees living in urban areas are being given the opportunity to visit the Yorkshire Dales for the very first time.

Burmese refugees who have resettled in the UK need help with everything from learning about their new community to getting into training, work and education. In Bradford refugee resettlement workers at Horton Housing provide this support during their first year in the UK. Judy worked with Horton Housing, and through People and the DALES, to give 13 Burmese women the opportunity to visit the Yorkshire Dales.

Judy says, “The women had lived in Bradford for less than 6 months. Many spoke little English and were shy and nervous. But the great outdoors does wonders! After walking from Malham to the cove, up the 412 steps onto the limestone pavement and then back down the Tarn Road into Malham, it was hard to keep the women quiet and the elation of getting out into the Dales was evident.”

Francesca Archer- Todd, Resettlement Worker for Horton Housing says “The women seemed to have really thrived from the experience. It was a huge success. Thanks for your help. I do hope we will be able to come again.”

During the visit photographer Tim Smith took photos of the women which he used in an exhibition in Bradford to raise awareness of the plight of refugees in Burma.

Through People and the DALES we’re bringing more disadvantaged groups from West Yorkshire and North Lancashire into the Dales. If you know of a group that would like to take part in the project contact Judy Rogers or Gail Smith on 015242 51002.

A new documentary, 'Moving to Mars', tells the story of two families who came to Yorkshire as refugees from Burma through the UN Gateway Protection Programme. Look out for screenings in your local area.