As we enter the season of Advent, the Justice and Peace Refugee Project continues to provide a safe space where those clients we support can receive a warm welcome, in addition to receiving basic food, toiletries and second-hand clothing. As we move into the colder winter months, clients are grateful to have access to warm coats and shoes which, working with the SVP, we are also able to provide.

The vast majority of the items and the financial support that we provide at the Refugee Project are donated by parishes, schools and individuals and without the support of donors, the project would not be possible. We thank you all most sincerely for your generous support. With new clients registering every week, in need of food to supplement their meagre allowance and with the rise in the cost of living, the cost of providing food bags and toiletry items to clients has more than doubled in the last 2 years and we are often in short supply. This Advent season, the project really does need your help. Financial donations are particularly welcome, as we need to purchase food and toiletries on a regular basis. The full list of items required can be found here.

We were very pleased to hear recently that the Refugee Project ‘s application for a grant from Neighbourly was successful which will be used to purchase fridges to store food items which can then be preserved longer for our clients. In addition to our usual collections from supermarkets, we are also now able to collect surplus food from Sainsbury’s on Wednesdays which is very welcome, as fresh food items are really appreciated by our clients.

The Refugee Employment Program has now agreed to come into the project twice a month to advise and assist clients in accessing training and employment opportunities, which is most helpful. We have also resumed referrals to Recyke Y’Bike, A North East charity that specialises in refurbishing donated bicycles in order to provide bicycles to our clients.

We continue to receive increasing numbers of clients using our services, with numbers of individuals and families now reaching 550. Recent registrations are largely from Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Sudan and Syria, but many other countries are also represented. We have recently received feedback from many of our clients expressing their sincere appreciation for the support received from the project, saying that it is crucial to their survival as they struggle to make ends meet.

We very much welcome financial contributions too. The project bank account is: DHN, Justice and Peace Refugee Project sort code 40–34–18, account number 52854058. Alternatively, cheques made payable to DHN, Justice and Peace Refugee Project can be sent to Refugee Project Co-ordinator, St Vincent’s Support Centre, New Bridge Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 2TQ. Gift-Aiding your donation if possible makes a big difference. There is a Gift-Aid Declaration form for a single donation here or for multiple donations here or  you can request one from Marjory Knowles by email: jp.refugeeproject@diocesehn.org.uk.

For more details about our work and how you can assist, please contact Azad Hasan, Project Co-ordinator at azad.hasan@diocesehn.org.uk or 07407 091184 or visit our webpage, which also gives details on how you can make financial donations.

Happy Advent and the blessings of the Christmas season to you all from the Justice and Peace Refugee Project.

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