Who are we?

Taunton Welcomes Refugees (TWR) is a charity that is run entirely by volunteers.  We have come together to welcome the refugees that are living in Taunton, Wellington and the surrounding area.

Refugees have left their homelands to escape persecution and danger. They are appealing to us to provide a place of safety and security where they can live. They face many challenges as they learn how to integrate into UK society. The more successful this integration is, the better this will be both for refugees and for UK society. TWR takes practical steps to help with that integration so that refugees can live independent and fulfilling lives in our community.

Meet the Team

Ali Bachelor

Ali Bachelor

Ali has lived in Somerset since 1998.
Before qualifying as a teacher she worked for a variety of companies and part of The Prince’s Trust. She also has a degree in Arabic and Italian.
Ali has held a number of voluntary positions and is keen to support the local refugee community.

Esther Checketts

Esther Checketts

Esther has worked in various fields including Museums, childcare and hospitality. She is a wife and mother of two. Having spent three years living in Qatar she is back in Taunton now and happy to be part of Taunton Welcomes Refugees.

Simon Forrester

Simon Forrester

Simon is the charity’s secretary. After a career in the Civil Service, he is still busy at his desk but also finds time to do some volunteer driving. Originally having studied music, he performs with a local choir and plays the organ at Milverton Church.

Gail Griffin

Gail Griffin

Following a career in environmental law, Gail worked in the voluntary and charity sector in Somerset organisations. Her interests in refugees and asylum seekers come from her Quaker father and the work of High Wycombe refugee charities and housing.

Juliet Harkness

Juliet Harkness

Juliet has lived in the Quantocks since 2003. After a life-long career in the Arts as a Co-puppeteer and designer in Brog Puppets Travelling Theatre, she set up a Home-Start scheme in Bridgwater supporting vulnerable young families and managed the scheme for 3 years. In retirement she has focussed on painting, ceramics, gardening and walking.

Lynne Mayers

Lynne Mayers

Lynne previously worked with the Refugee Council in London, in setting up an emergency day centre, and she has also carried out agricultural development research at the University of the West Indies, in Trinidad. Since taking early retirement as a Methodist minister she continues to support work among refugees and asylum seekers, and also writes about the women and girls who worked at the tin and copper mines of Cornwall.

Kate Murdoch

Kate Murdoch

Kate Murdoch has lived in Somerset since 2002, spending her time raising children, along with sheep and other animals on a small farm. She studied Horticulture and still works as a garden designer. A particular interest is growing her own food, and conservation of the farm and woodland. She has been a Befriender since 2019.

Robin Peeler

Robin Peeler

Robin is a software engineer who has lived and worked in Taunton for over 20 years. He has been involved in running the local Scout group and a Spanish Conversation Club. He is currently chair of the Taunton Group of Amnesty International. He has been part of a befriending circle since 2018.

What do we do?

TWR works through its enthusiastic and resourceful volunteers to engage with refugees, both families and individuals, and finds ways to work with them to ease the transition from new arrivals to integrated members of our society. Their needs are, of course, as varied as the people themselves. But all need help with finding their way around the local area; sorting out minor problems with their allocated houses and learning English.

TWR also coordinates events where refugee families can meet each other and discuss common problems and their solutions.  There are also opportunities for refugees to learn new skills that will be useful in our society such as cycling, gardening and catering regulations.

Many volunteers are initially wary of offering to help with refugees as it does present many challenges. TWR provides training and support to volunteers so they can effectively bring their skills and goodwill to support families.