HRH the Earl of Wessex and HRH the Countess of Wessex visited Integration Support Services on Tuesday 1st March. Their Royal Highnesses were introduced to the charity’s staff, volunteers, service users, trustees and partners.
Their Royal Highnesses were greeted by Vice Lord-Lieutenant of Essex, Vincent Thomson Councillor Maggie Hulcoop, Vice-Chair of Harlow District Council and Mr Brian Keane, Chief Executive of Harlow District Council.
The visit enabled the dignitaries to meet and speak first hand to our service users, who were able to describe their individual traumatic journeys, the support they needed and received, and how they have embraced, the healing process.
This included real life experiences of people struggling with various issues such as isolation, language barriers, domestic violence, hate crime, honour abuse, immigration status, and being unaccompanied minors.
It’s not always easy to share difficult, and often challenging, experiences and we thank our clients for being open to sharing what they have been through and highlighting these real life struggles.
Some of our visitors also observed a lively talking group at Falcon English School, where the students were also able to share their experiences. Much of what was echoed during the visit, from our service users, was feelings of joy and appreciation to have an opportunity to take part in such an event.
Founded in 2005, Integration Support Services (ISS) is a small charity based in Harlow, Essex. The charity’s mission is to help facilitate the successful integration of migrants, refugees, asylum seekers and members of Ethnically Diverse communities.
It offers assistance through a holistic approach, providing a range of services that are needs led. The adult ESOL project, Falcon English School, transformed into a young people’s learning zone, delivering free English lessons for unaccompanied minors during the summer of 2021. This project also gave young people an opportunity to learn office skills, where they learnt how to use various bits of equipment associated to an office environment.
In addition, ISS works closely with a broad range of partner organisations to provide crucial support across Essex and Hertfordshire. Having partnership cooperation and collaboration means we are able to share our resources, with some achievable outcomes, that ultimately benefit those in need.
Some of the organisations Their Royal Highnesses met were Rainbow Services, Efua Sey Cultural Club, Tree House Children’s Centre, Harlow Islamic Centre, Any Time Give, Phoenix Resource Centre, Essex Multicultural Activities Network, Community Embrace UK, Support Works UK, Epping Forest Voluntary Action and Harlow District Council.
We were honoured to host Their Royal Highnesses. We are grateful for the compassion they showed our service users, especially as many of the people who approach us for help show courage in difficult circumstances every day”.
“Their Royal Highnesses celebrated the diverse cultures, nationalities and languages of our staff, volunteers and service users. It is thanks to our diversity that we are able to overcome barriers and extend our hands to different communities.
Vice Lord-Lieutenant of Essex, Vincent Thomson, commented “Many thanks for, and many congratulations on, an excellent occasion yesterday. It was well conceived and beautifully executed and I have no doubt that our Royal Visitors were both very interested and highly impressed. The drum welcome was wonderful and the range of support offered by the many organisations that you work with is most impressive. It is wonderful work that you and your colleagues do and targeted at those most in need and the most vulnerable.”
One of our valued volunteers commented on the visit, saying “It was a unique experience and I will remember it all my life”.
We deeply appreciate the many forms of support that Integration Support Services receives. We hope to continue building capacity so that we may make a lasting difference to people’s lives. We thank everyone who made this visit possible and supported in making it make such a special day.