As we read the news of the capsized boat in Greece and the tragic loss of life of refugees fleeing war and persecution, the theme of Compassion in the recently celebrated Refugee Week seems particularly fitting. During Refugee Week, many different activities are planned across the country by different organisations supporting refugees and asylum seekers.

In addition, we are all being encouraged to become involved in Simple Acts, everyday actions we can all get involved in to stand with refugees and make new connections in our communities, becoming part of a movement of people everywhere taking small steps to create a big change. It is encouraging to see some of our schools getting involved in these actions. For more information about these Simple Acts, please visit their website.

During Refugee Week this year, the Refugee Project joined with the St Vincent de Paul Society and North East Diversity, Education and Solidarity to host a celebration of arts and culture recognising the contributions, creativity and resilience of refugees and people seeking sanctuary. The event included an art exhibition entitled Exhibition in Exile, featuring cartoons on immigration, refugees and asylum seekers by a range of renowned cartoonists. There were stalls demonstrating a variety of crafts and those attending also enjoyed a fantastic authentic world buffet. Several clients from the project and people from the local community were involved and a good time was had by all.

Refugee Week 2023

The Refugee Project has been extremely busy in recent weeks, with record numbers of clients accessing our support. In May this year, the total number of individuals and families supported by the project went above 500, with 70 new registrations, largely from Iran, Iraq, Syria, Albania, El Salvador, Afghanistan, Eritrea and Sudan. From the minute we open our doors, we can witness the positive impact on the lives of our clients of the warm welcome, food, toiletries, clothes, English lessons and signposting to other services that we provide. With the increase in clients and rising cost of food and toiletry items, your support is more vital than ever, so please continue with your generous donations.

In addition to Refugee Week, National Volunteer Week also fell in June and gave the project leaders the opportunity to thank their amazing volunteers for their hard work and dedication in providing incredible support to one of the most vulnerable groups in society. Volunteers are the backbone of the project, involved in a range of activities and tasks. We are very grateful for all their contributions and are looking forward to welcoming our new volunteers. Recently, we had cause to celebrate with a client who, after having his claim for asylum initially refused, was granted leave to remain on appeal. He came into the centre to share his good news and also to bring chocolates for the staff and all the volunteers to thank them for the incredible support he received from them through some difficult times.

We are thankful for and continue to rely on your generous financial support for our work. Details of our bank account (DHN Justice and Peace Refugee Project) can be found on our webpage. If your donation is by cheque please send this to St Vincent’s Centre, New Bridge Street, Newcastle NE1 2TQ for the attention of Azad Hasan. Please remember to include a contact name and address when sending in a financial donation to the centre, to ensure that we can acknowledge safe receipt of the funds you have kindly donated or if we need to get in touch. Please consider Gift-Aiding, a Gift Aid Declaration form is available here or you can request one from marjory.knowles@gmail.com or 07929 343418.

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.

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