As we move into April and towards Easter, the plight of asylum seekers remains very much in the news. As highlighted by Bishop Paul McAleenan, the Lead Bishop for Migrants and Refugees, ‘People are driven from their homes by poverty, conflict, persecution, natural disasters and other factors that prevent them from flourishing’. For those forced to seek refuge in foreign lands, the welcome they receive can offer some hope in otherwise extremely difficult circumstances. The Justice and Peace Refugee Project continues to provide a warm welcome and a safe space for regular and new clients every week, with between 400 and 500 clients receiving support each month.
In addition to providing clients with food, clothing and household items, volunteers at the project endeavour to signpost clients to other useful services. Our Project Co-ordinator, Azad, has recently developed a guidance sheet for volunteers to support them in their knowledge of these services. In addition, volunteers work to support clients with referrals to other charities that may be able to help them. Recently, we referred a client to the Unlimbited charity, which specialises in the design and building of innovative 3D arms. The project referred the client and followed up on his case, resulting in him successfully being fitted with a device. The project continues to work with Recyke Y’bike, a Northeast charity that specialises in refurbishing donated bicycles in order to support clients being provided with bicycles. In addition to signposting, on a day-to-day basis, through conversations with clients, volunteers become familiar with their needs and can sometimes find solutions by supporting clients individually. For example, one of our volunteers recently provided a client with mobility issues with walking sticks, for which he was most grateful.
Asylum seekers sometimes wait years to have decisions made on their applications, and this is a stressful and challenging time, so it is always good news when they receive a decision. Recently several clients have received questionnaires as part of the Home Office’s ‘streamlined asylum process’ and we hope that this will speed up the decision-making process for them.
When new clients register at the project, they are made aware that they can access English lessons on a Friday, which are provided by some of our volunteers. We are pleased to report that we have now expanded our English learning activities to include Wednesdays, meaning that even more clients will be supported with gaining important language skills.
We would love to hear from people who might like to get involved in volunteering and make a real difference to the lives of those who visit us. So, if you are interested, please contact our Project Co-ordinator, Azad.
We continue to rely on the generosity of individuals and parishes for donations which we are grateful for. We receive donations of food on Mondays between 10.30am and 1.30pm. Please remember that the project will not be open for deliveries on Easter Monday. If you have donations to deliver, ideally the previous Monday would be very helpful. Items most urgently needed can be found here.
For more details about our work and how you can assist, please contact Azad Hasan, Project Co-ordinator at email@example.com or 07407 091184 or visit our webpage which also gives details on how you can make financial donations. Please consider Gift-Aiding, a Gift Aid Declaration form is available here or you can request one from firstname.lastname@example.org or 07929 343418.
Happy Easter to you all from the Justice and Peace Refugee Project.