As we move into April, the plight of asylum seekers and refugees continues to be a huge issue across the world, with millions of people being forced to seek refuge in foreign lands. It may interest you to know that currently armed conflict and wars are the most common reasons refugees leave their homes, as demonstrated by countries like Syria, South Sudan, Afghanistan, and Ukraine. Drought and famine, primarily brought on or amplified by climate change, is another prominent cause, such as in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Many countries face multiple issues, such as Sudan and Somalia suffering through both drought and civil unrest; or Afghanistan enduring armed conflict, droughts, and natural disasters. The welcome refugees and asylum seekers receive when they arrive in a new place can offer some hope in otherwise extremely challenging circumstances. The Justice and Peace Refugee Project continues to provide a warm welcome and safe space for regular and new clients every week, with currently 530 individuals and families receiving support each month.

In addition to providing clients with food, clothing and household items, staff and volunteers at the project continue to signpost clients to other useful services. For example, our Project Co-ordinator has developed close links with West End Refugee Services (WERS), a registered charity that provides support and opportunities to people seeking asylum and refugees in Tyneside. Clients newly granted leave to remain have been signposted to WERS to receive support with Home Office documentation. A family has also been supported to obtain Home Office travel documents, so that their children can take part in school trips. We work very closely with the SVP to the benefit of our clients. Recently, we were contacted by a headteacher for support for a mother and four children who had no household items and were sleeping on the floor. Working collaboratively with the SVP, we were able to support the family with beds, bedding and other household items.

Recently, the project has attracted asylum seekers from a wider area, with clients registering from Sunderland, County Durham and even as far as Middlesborough. This is a long way to travel, so we have put together a list of services providing support to asylum seekers in these areas, so that our volunteers can signpost clients to them. Our Project Co-ordinator has also made links with ‘Walking With,’ an organisation in Wallsend that provides a range of services to help, guide and support refugees and asylum seekers who live in Norh Tyneside.

We are grateful for all the support that local schools have given to the project over the years and continue to develop our links with them. A PowerPoint document about the project and asylum claimants in the UK has recently been prepared and we look forward to sharing this with pupils when visiting schools in the future.

We continue to rely on the generosity of individuals and parishes for donations for which we are incredibly grateful. Items most urgently needed can be found here.

We are thankful for and continue to rely on your generous financial support for our work. Details of our bank account (DHN Justice & Peace Refugee Project) can be found on our webpage. Please consider Gift-Aiding your donation, if possible, it makes a big difference. You can donate online (simply select the Gift Aid option when completing the online form) or download and submit a Gift-Aid Declaration form for a single or multiple donation. Visit our Donate and Gift Aid page now.

For more details about our work and how you can assist, please contact our Project Co-ordinator by email: jp.refugeeproject@diocesehn.org.uk or visit our webpage.

Please be aware that the project will not be open for deliveries on Easter Monday, 1 April.

Our task must be to free ourselves – by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty

Albert Einstein