New office hours, website and support capabilities…

The RA-C office at 15 Queen Street will now be staffed on a Wednesday morning, and all day Thursday and Friday.

There are often appointments going on so please note that we may have to ask you to wait (with a cuppa) while we finish any confidential meetings.

Since the new website went live we have had on average 2 new volunteer enquiries a week and 2 new referrals.

We also get new clients by word of mouth and this month we have taken on 3 new ladies and 2 men from the MENA (middle East and North Africa) regions.

Some of these new clients have needed emergency payments to be able to buy food or pay for essential doctors reports, travel costs or similar. Thanks to your continuing support we have been able to help.

It’s a sad fact that due to language barriers, poor advice and other factors many first time asylum claims are refused.

In the gap between this news and making a second claim (very often more successfully) most asylum seekers become people with no recourse to public funding (NRPF). At this time they cannot claim benefits and cannot work.

We have extended our case loads to include people with this classification. Often simple signposting to better solicitors or the addition of a medical report or other evidence is needed and we support people while these are acquired and used to strengthen their case.

Legal Comfort Solicitors in Colchester continue to offer advice to many of our clients on a pro bono basis.

We have Staff Training next week on Universal Credit. Worrying stories about gaps in benefit payments for up to 12 weeks, or longer, have made us want to be proactive in getting the best possible advice for our clients. Huge thanks to the East of England Local Government Association for creating so many free training opportunities for groups like ours. It’s a great way to meet up with other teams and swap information about what has worked for our clients.

We will also be sending 3 people to training to become Hate Crime Ambassadors. This will enable us to refer people for appropriate police support if they are subject to abuse. Our outreach work is also stepping up within schools so that we can give students at a primary age an interesting view into the life of a refugee and with the help of our clients a positive impression of the different cultures finding a home here in Colchester.