Bringing communities together

An Oromo family enjoying a trip to beach
An Oromo family enjoying a trip to beach

Many Sussex people will have taken part in Red Nose Day 2017 last month which raised an astonishing £71 million

This is money that will help transform the lives of some of the poorest and most disadvantaged people both on our doorstep in the UK and across some of the world’s poorest communities. Sussex Community Foundation has been helping Comic Relief distribute the funds raised by a generous British public, here in Sussex, since 2009 and have made just shy of £800,000 worth of grants on their behalf.

Following this year’s Red Nose Day, Comic Relief has made a further £16,000 Community Cash fund available to communities across Sussex. Grants of £500-£1,000 are available to small organisations in Sussex that are doing great work to help local people living tough lives. Groups like the Oromo Community in Brighton, run by and for Oromo refugees.

The Oromo is an ethnic group originating in Ethopia who came to Brighton as refugees in September 2006 under the Home Office’s Gateway Protection Programme which works in partnership with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

Around 85 members of Oromo community live in Brighton & Hove. “We are originally from Ethiopia and our tribe name is Oromo,” says organiser Awel Harun Abdo. “Having fled our country because of the political situation, we lived in a refugee camp in Kenya until we came to United Kingdom.” Practically, it was very clear that the community needed continued support from each other to settle into life of Brighton & Hove and so the group was founded in 2007. They received a £1,000 grant from Comic Relief Community Cash in 2015 to pay for three community gatherings, including their AGM.

“The big gatherings are very important,” says Awel. “In our culture, neighbours eat together and share meals every day. We grow up, eating together, speaking together and playing together. When we came to this country, we were all split up and lived far from each other. Having time to spend together, socialising, sharing food and supporting one another, is extremely important for us. One of our group members has two children and has not been able to find a job. This means he can never afford to take his family out for a meal. Being able to come and share food with his family and friends is really, really important for him. It has made people more enthusiastic and positive. We would like to thank you very much for your support for the Oromo community to help us live our lives in Brighton & Hove over the last 10 years.”

These small grants really do transform the fortunes of the local organisations they benefit. There are so many groups in Sussex which are a vital resource for the community and do a massive amount on very little money. For details on how to apply, visit www.sussexgiving.org.uk/communitycash. The deadline for applications is Friday 5th May.