The Refugee Project continues to welcome clients from across the world. In September, we supported 531 individuals and families and received 29 new registrations from clients in need of food and toiletries to supplement their meagre allowance. With constantly growing numbers, we really do need and appreciate your donations of food, toiletries and finance. The full list of items required is available here.

With the government’s announcement that they are committed to clearing the backlog of cases that have been in the asylum system for some time, we are expecting the Home Office to make decisions about some of our clients in the coming months. We are always very pleased when clients receive news that they have been granted leave to remain, but recently the government has made changes, which are adversely affecting these clients by changing the time people are given to move out of asylum accommodation once they are given refugee status – the 28-day so-called ‘move on’ period – with some refugees having just seven days’ notice. This is leaving some of our clients homeless. The Refugee Project has added its name to a letter from several charities to the Home Secretary asking the Home Office to amend this policy and prevent eviction notices and homelessness.

On a more positive note, the opportunities for our clients to learn English have recently been further improved. In addition to English lessons being provided by volunteers at the project on Wednesdays and Fridays, the SVP are now providing an accredited course on Mondays and providing transport costs. All these opportunities are valued by our clients and allow them to make good progress in acquiring English skills to support their integration and further training opportunities. We are really pleased that several clients have become proficient enough to be accepted at Newcastle City College for higher level training.

You may be aware that the Ken Loach film, ‘The Old Oak’, was recently released and had its world premiere at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival where it competed for the Palme d’Or, the highest prize awarded at the festival. The film is based in the North-East and about a family of Syrian refugees and their experience in the local community. With The Tyneside cinema, the project covered the cost for clients to attend a screening of the film. Several of our volunteers also watched it!

Many of our clients are very keen to pursue opportunities for training and employment and the project is keen to support this. Our Project Co-ordinator, Azad, recently met with REED, the Refugee Employment Program to discuss plans to engage our clients in employability training and we hope to further develop training in this area in the future to increase opportunities for our clients.

We are extremely 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