Dear supporters,

Healing in a time of conflict and crisis sounds impossible. But in so many ways it’s a crucial theme for this year’s Refugee Week, which is coming soon from 18-26th June.

I’ve seen up-close the impact of healing and mental health rehabilitation in post-conflict zones such as Rwanda, Liberia and Kosovo when I worked overseas – it’s a vital part of the recovery process.

My name is Adrian Sell – I’m the interim Ukraine Programme Manager at Asylum Welcome. I’ve always worked in the voluntary sector, and I’ve grown up knowing about the trauma of escaping conflict – my father was a refugee fleeing Hungary to the UK when the USSR repressed the popular uprising in 1956. I can see how healing plays a key part in the lives of asylum seekers and refugees who are our clients.

Right now we’re seeing a growing number of Ukrainian families arrive in Oxfordshire every week. At Asylum Welcome we’re leading the programme of help and support that the Ukrainian families need, and we’re helping host families too in providing the right support for their new guests. But this added workload means a greater demand on our services, and a considerable rise in our costs.

This Refugee Week, the theme of healing celebrates the human ability to start again. Healing means recovering from a painful experience or situation, so that we can continue to live. No-one understands this better than those who have lost their homes and have had to build new lives from scratch. Those going through the asylum system also know that healing is an ongoing process, made harder by poverty, housing difficulties and the threat of being detained or deported.

With all these additional numbers of people turning to us for help, I’m writing to ask if you could mark Refugee Week yourself by making a special donation in support of Oxford’s asylum seeker and refugee community at this difficult time hereOur workload has grown enormously in the last year.

Most Ukrainians that we’re seeing are deeply traumatised by the war in their home country – families broken apart by conflict, homes destroyed, friends or relatives killed or missing while fighting continues around them in their beloved country. The Russian invasion of Ukraine has had a devastating impact across Europe. The UK Government system has been painfully slow and cumbersome in its response, but the public reaction has been remarkable, with so many families happy to help in offering accommodation and support to enable the healing process to commence.

Only recently we’ve been helping Anichka* who found accommodation in Oxfordshire, and Asylum Welcome is playing a vital role in her support. My colleague Gilberto spoke to her last week:

You can see that this growth in our work at Asylum Welcome is hugely challenging, and whilst we will do whatever we can to support each and every person that comes to our door we rely on the support of our donors to maintain, and indeed extend, the work we are doing.

All of this comes at a time when the Government has taken the notion of ‘hostile environment’ to even lower depths. Now enshrined in law, the Government seeks to send as many asylum seekers and refugees as possible, four thousand miles away to Rwanda – a country with a terrible record of human rights, and no clear evidence yet that it can become a safe home for immigrants. As Lord Alf Dubs pointed out… it is nothing less than “state-sponsored trafficking”.

If you can help us now, I can assure you that your support will help us provide essential services to those asylum seekers and refugees we support every day through our foodbank, our legal advice team, our youth projects, our education and employment programme and our Welcome Desk, now all fully functioning post-Covid and seeing a marked increase in demand.

You can make a donation simply by clicking here. If you have not already, would you consider making your donation a standing order? This really helps us plan for the future.

Your help enables healing in a very practical sense here in Oxfordshire, where demand for our services is greater than ever.

With kind regards, my personal best wishes… and immense gratitude for any help you can provide at this time.

PS. During Refugee Week there are a number of special events taking place across the county. We are pleased to be co-hosting an exciting all-day Bazaar at Magdalen College School on Saturday 25 June from 11am-5pm – full details can be found on the Refugee Week brochure page. I hope to see you there.

*Name changed to protect identity

With the hostile Nationality and Borders Bill and the Ukrainian and Afghan Crises, we need your support more than ever!

There are several ways you can help Asylum Welcome:

• Get involved saying No to Offshoring to Rwanda here!
• Make a donation here.
• Join us during Refugee Week here.
• Please donate food to Asylum Welcome’s Food Bank:
• We urgently need laptops and tablets to support clients’ home learning and to help them to stay connected. Please visit our Laptop Project for more info and email if you can donate one.
• We also urgently need bicycles. Cycling empowers asylum seekers and refugees to travel freely and independently, in an environmentally friendly way. Please visit our Bike Project and Sanctuary Wheels for more info and email if you can donate one. 
 Become a member.
• Volunteer with us here.
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