A letter to women arriving in the UK from Afghanistan, from members of the Writing Group at Women for Refugee Women

Dear Sister,

Firstly, we would like to say, “Welcome!”

We can imagine this time is a time of great challenge for you. Relief that you are safe, but also grief for the home, the people and the life you left behind.

You’ll meet so many women who’ve had different problems and troubles but the same pain in your heart as you have now. Maybe you think the pain in your heart will continue forever. Maybe you think you can’t have a different life with new opportunities. But there are many ways to have a better life here. You just need to discover the best one for yourself.

We want to tell you that you are not alone here. Don’t isolate yourself. Reach out, speak out, be bold. You have people around that understand what you are going through and are there to walk alongside you, to be there for you and with you in your new journey.

We also want to tell you that it is also all right if you want to be by yourself. To be alone, quiet, to want to wrap yourself up and be still, for as long as you need. Then, when you are ready, we will be here.

Take care of your body. Keep warm. Get some thick socks, a good winter coat. Be kind to yourself. Eat good, nourishing food. Listen to music you love. Dance. Go on walks, explore your new home. And watch British telly, it is a spectacle.

In this country you will be able to find your traditional food and clothes. Each nation is free to live their own culture. You don’t have to give up your culture, religion, friends here. Just don’t forget that you also have a chance to see and live the cultures of the UK. You will see so many different rules here. Try to accept official rules. It will make your life easier and better.

Take care of your mind. Reach out to people, to organisations. There is no shame in this. We have all been there. Get the tools you need to cope, to survive and then ultimately, to thrive and thrive well.

Knowledge is power. Try to learn English, the health system, job options. Try to have routines, to go to the park, have a walk, attend workshops or courses according to your interests and abilities.

You’re safe here. You can get help whenever you need. You don’t need anything special to be important and accepted in this country. You are valuable as you are.

We want you to feel alive again, to find hope and love and support and belonging, to live freely in the community.

Be strong. Don’t hide. Ask for help. You are not alone.

With love,

Your Sisters