For many of our clients, paperwork is a life raft. It’s the difference between a safe home and healthy existence, and the ongoing struggle to survive. But it can be impossible. A lack of English speaking and writing skills is an enormous barrier to filling in asylum applications, NHS forms, welfare statements, school applications, job centre forms and lots more besides.
One of the services we provide is assistance with the asylum application and many of the processes involved with settling in the UK. We’ve built strong relationships with Home office services, local councils, legal charities, English language schools, health providers, social workers and more, so that we can advocate for our clients who might otherwise be quite stranded.
Upholding the rights of all the people in our community is one of our core values, and we were recently able to assist Julio. Suffering from a nasty tooth abscess, he was denied dental care by his local clinic, and ended up pulling his own tooth out with a pair of pliers! As well as fight his corner, we were able to educate the clinic about their legal duty of care to provide emergency treatment to anyone in England, regardless of immigration status – and prevent this happening again.
Our sanctuary seekers come from more than 20 different countries, and while we’re lucky to have an Arabic-speaking member of staff to communicate with Syrian refugees and others from the Middle East, we also help people from places like Eritrea and Nepal, so the wider and more diverse our community can become, the more valuable our work can be. We rely on our network of wonderful volunteers to help us, including David – who gave up a few hours each week to help a client from Sudan understand the driving theory test and do a mock practical test – and Robert, who kindly helped assemble some office furniture so we could carry out our work.
Our clients also share incredibly sensitive information with us so that we can advocate for them – we hear many heart-breaking stories of trauma and suffering, and we’re fortunate right now to have a confidential space in which to hold these meetings and do our work. But we’re not sure how we’re going to pay our rent for the next after the next quarter – we’re currently working on some applications ourselves for funding.
Please share this if you know anybody with experience in funding applications for charitable work, we really need the help! We’re also looking for corporate sponsors, endorsements and donations as large or small as you can manage – please click here to make a contribution. We are, as ever, incredibly humbled and grateful.