Asylum Welcome supports refugees, asylum seekers and immigration detainees in Oxford and Oxfordshire.
Our volunteers, members, supporters and staff share values based on a common humanity and social justice. Together, we work to reduce poverty, suffering and social isolation, and to enable asylum seekers and refugees to live with the respect and dignity to which they are entitled.
SEASONAL APPEAL 2013
At this time of year, we ask our friends to show their support by donating to our Seasonal Appeal. This has been a challenging year and we are grateful for the generosity of local people which has kept our services running. Thanks to our many volunteers, Asylum Welcome has continued to meet a range of needs through providing English classes and education advice, fresh and preserved food, hot lunches, information and advice for asylum seekers and refugees, youth activities and support, visitors to detainees in Campsfield Immigration Removals Centre and awareness raising events.
I would like to share our concerns about the impact of legal aid cuts on young asylum seekers who are without adult family members in the UK.
Asylum Welcome sees many unaccompanied asylum seeking children who arrive in Oxford aged 15 or 16. They arrive alone, disorientated and traumatised after dangerous journeys in the back of lorries lasting many months. Most are lads from Afghanistan, but in the last 12 months we have also seen young people from other countries, including Eritrea and Syria.
By the time they approach 18 years old, through the combined efforts of Asylum Welcome, Oxfordshire social services, schools, colleges and the Housing Association Key2, they have put down roots in the UK. Most are confident, settled and hopeful for the future.
Their young age, the circumstances in which they left, and their disconnection from their old lives, make it very difficult for them to prove a case for asylum, and most have their asylum claim refused by the Home Office. Yet there are compelling reasons why they deserve our protection and care. Until last April, when the cuts to Legal Aid took effect, it was possible to make a case for these young people to be granted permission to remain the UK under Article 8 of the Human Rights Act. Now however, the Right to Respect for Family and Private life no longer falls within the scope of Legal Aid.
What are we doing about it?
Asylum Welcome employs a social worker who builds trusting relationships with these young people, ensures that they are able to access practical and emotional support and works closely with lawyers to explore all avenues for securing their right to remain in the UK. Where it can make a difference, we are putting a small amount of funding into paying for legal representation, translation of documents and costs of travelling to court hearings. We spend time listening to the young people in this uncertain situation and helping them to prepare for the possible outcomes. Thanks to our many volunteers we help them to access peer support through our youth club and to improve their English in one to one lessons.
What more would we like to do?
With funds raised in this year's seasonal appeal we want to continue to employ a social worker who can co-ordinate our work with these young people. We also want to achieve OISC registration* for staff and volunteers, so that we can provide some ‘in-house’ advice to asylum seekers on immigration law.
Our target for this year’s Seasonal Appeal is £15,000. Donations of all kinds are welcome: for example, £10 will buy fresh fruit for a session at our youth club, £100 will cover the cost of a training session for volunteers, £200 will pay for the translation of a young person’s medical documents. One donor has generously offered to match any individual donations over £100 up to a total of £3000, so your donation will go even further. Please help our records by marking your donation: Asylum Welcome Seasonal Appeal 2013. Thank you very much for supporting Asylum Welcome’s Seasonal Appeal. Every penny raised will directly benefit asylum seekers and refugees in Oxfordshire.
We are delighted to announce that Baroness Helena Kennedy will be speaking at our Seasonal Appeal launch event on the subject of Responding to the impact of cuts in legal aid. This will be held in the Main Lecture Theatre, Brookes University at 4.30pm on 14th November. I look forward to seeing many of you there.
John Prangley, Chair of Trustees
* Registration with OISC (Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner) is required for anyone giving advice on immigration law.
Picture credit: Rory Carnegie, at Asylum Welcome’s youth club 2013.
Start the New Year by joining Asylum Welcome!
Asylum Welcome's annual membership runs from July to June and costs £20 or £6 concessions. To get the New Year off to a good start we would like to encourage you to become a member by joining now for half the annual fee - that is £10 normal rate or £3 concessionary rate. Becoming a member clearly demonstrates your support for asylum seekers, refugees and detainees. It allows you to have a say in the running of the organisation, for example by voting in our trustees meetings, and we will send you regular news on our activities. Those joining now at half rate can renew at the full rate in July.
We are sad to announce the death of Jean Kaye, a founder member of Asylum Welcome. Jean worked tirelessly for the organisation, first as a Campsfield visitor and then as a Volunteer Education Advisor until her retirement in 2010. She believed passionately in Human Rights and Justice. She was compassionate, caring and effective in helping her clients. Asylum Seekers and Refugees sought her advice on English classes, higher education courses and Citizenship. She raised funds and gave talks. She helped many to become assimilated into the Oxford Community and wider British Society. She received the Certificate of Honour award from the City of Oxford for her work.
Thanks to those volunteers who organised the fantastic book, plant and cake sale on September 14th.
Second hand books continue to be on sale from our office with all proceeds going to our education service which helps clients to learn English and access college courses
If you would like to browse the books for sale, or have books to donate, please come to Asylum Welcome during office hours.
Asylum Welcome has office space for rent!
Volunteer to run half marathon
On the 13th October, Bethany, one of our volunteers, will be running the Oxford Half Marathon for Asylum Welcome. She says:
'Raising money for a charity I volunteer with will give me an extra push to train hard and run hard on race day, so please give what you can.'
Click here if you would like to sponsor Bethany.
Thank you Bethany and good luck with the race!
3 Volunteers needed to provide an office-based detention support service on Wednesday or Thursday mornings from 10 to 1 or on Friday afternoon from 1:30 to 4. The role involves offering telephone support to detainees at Campsfield House, as well as supporting volunteer visitors and keeping confidential databases up to date. A minimum of 12 months availability is required. Full training given. Ideally candidates should have some familiarity with Microsoft packages, e-mail and have a good standard of written and spoken English.
Volunteer needed to work at reception desk on Friday afternoons.
Volunteer needed to coordinate Asylum Welcome's speakers group. This would involve responding to requests from organisations, matching each request to an appropriate speaker and keeping track of our speaking engagements.
Volunteers needed to help at our Wednesday Lunch Club. This involves helping clients and volunteers prepare lunch and eating together. It is an enjoyable and delicious way of volunteering.
Volunteers needed to help at our Venda Youth Club on Tuesdays from 6:30 - 9:00 p.m. This involves taking part in activities with our young clients including pool, X-box, table football, helping with homework and CVs, and just chatting. Training will be provided. Volunteers must be DBS checked.
Volunteer needed long term one afternoon a week for our Information and Signposting Service. Experience with advice work required.
Experienced and qualified ESOL teachers are needed to work on a 1.1 basis with our clients who want to learn English.
Asylum Welcome is looking for a Student Liaison Volunteer. In particular, we are looking for a dedicated volunteer to help raise our profile within the university and tap into the fundraising potential of Oxford colleges. The ideal candidate will have volunteering experience, especially in fundraising and awareness-raising roles. A history of positions of responsibility within the University of Oxford is highly desirable. In this flexible, part-time role, you would be required to build links between the charity and student organisations within the university, finding innovative ways to raise both awareness of, and funds to support, our work. A commitment to Asylum Welcome's aims and values is essential.
Volunteer with experience of Joomla or web development required.
Please contact us if you are interested in any of the positions above.
Urgent call for food cupboard donations
Asylum Welcome is providing support to a number of Syrian families waiting to claim asylum and be relocated. This has put pressure on our resources, particularly the food cupboard which provides food for destitute families. We would welcome donations of food which can be dropped off at our office, Tesco/Sainsbury cards which can be posted, or donations through justgiving. Thank you for your generous support.
Seeking Asylum in a Time of Austerity
Truth, trust and the asylum system
Asylum Welcome Trustee, Melanie Griffiths, publishes fascinating article in Anthropology Today.
Greece: protect migrant lives at the gate of Europe. Sign Amnesty's petition.
A PEACE campaigner who once got thrown out of the House of Commons has dies aged 87.
Accounts of sexually inappropriate behaviour include guards offering to assist in immigration cases in return for sexual contact.
Legal aid residence test 'will just shift cost to council taxpayers'.
Petition with more than 55,000 signatures demands option of UK resettlement for interpreters who aided British forces.
Refugee group sends 'letter before claim' to Home Office after complaints about intimidating nature of message.
Many people, regardless of race, gender, or background, are forced to flee their home countries to find safer, better futures. But be real: have you ever been able to put yourself in their shoes? Wait until 0:57, and maybe that will change.
Amnesty International says the world has become an increasingly dangerous place for refugees and migrants.
Thousands of Afghan refugee boys who roam Europe alone, without parents, without enough help from European governments are at risk of destitution, detention, and death.
The Scottish Guardianship Service (SGS) has supported more than 100 unaccompanied young people - some victims of trafficking.
The UK government entrusts security company rooted in the military with medical care of detainees on deportation flights.