The stark news of the recent devastating earthquakes in Syria and Turkey reminds us of the plight of so many people across the world who are forced from their homes to seek refuge elsewhere. The Justice and Peace Refugee Project continues to provide a warm welcome and a safe space for many people who are seeking asylum. There are new clients registering with the project every week, most recently predominantly from Afghanistan, Iran, El-Salvador, Kuwait, Syria, Albania and Eritrea.

The Justice and Peace Refugee Project works closely with the SVP to support those in need. Our Project Co-ordinator, Azad, meets with SVP staff regularly to share ideas.

In addition to working collaboratively with us to respond to requests from our clients for clothes and household items, recently the SVP has initiated Vinnies Pop-up Market, which is an open market every Thursday which provides people with 12 food and non-food items for £5. This is really helpful and appreciated by many clients.

We are very grateful to all our volunteers who fulfil a range of roles at the project; providing English lessons, meeting and greeting clients when they arrive, providing refreshments, distributing food and toiletries, supporting client requests for other items and helping with the social aspects of the project. Volunteers are also always ready to provide reassurance to vulnerable clients and signpost them to other agencies that can support them. Recently one of our volunteers referred a client to Recyke Y’bike, a North East charity that specialises in refurbishing donated bicycles. The charity provided a bicycle to the client, which has allowed him to attend English classes and helped him to be more mobile. We are keen to hear from potential volunteers who can offer their time, so if you are interested, please contact our Project Co-ordinator, Azad.

In another recent initiative, a group of volunteers met to discuss plans to develop increased engagement with local schools and we are excited at the prospect of engaging with young people in the area to let them know about the project, the people it supports and how they can support them.

Of course, we continue to rely on the generosity of individuals and parishes for donations which we really appreciate. We receive donations of food on Mondays between 10.30am and 1.30pm. Items most urgently needed can be found here.

As always, 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.