Day 17

Europa Welcome stories…

Tess’s story…

Tess began volunteering with Asylum Welcome’s Adult & Family Services as an adviser in 2016 and, after gaining the OISC Level 2 (Asylum and Protection) qualification, she joined Asylum Welcome’s Immigration Services group. In September 2021, she was seconded to the Afghan Resettlement Team as Education Coordinator. After a half year as interim director at local charity, Sanctuary Hosting, Tess was appointed to coordinate the Europa Welcome service and, with a team of experienced volunteer advisers, assists people in Oxfordshire who need help making an application to the EU Settlement Scheme.

Tess has an MA in modern languages and literature, speaks a number of languages and has lived and worked in several European countries as well as the United States. She ran her own language and cross-cultural training business for 30 years before coming to Asylum Welcome.

Good news… at last!

During the summer, the Europa Welcome team made an application to the European Settlement Scheme on behalf of a 16-year old boy who had come to the UK to live with his paternal aunt following the death of his father in East Timor.  The boy’s aunt, a Portuguese national, had settled in the UK and had lived here for 25 years and, on the death of her brother, she stepped in to help out in a very challenging family situation, and agreed to take custody of her young nephew.  This was a complex case which required careful preparation and submission of a range of supporting evidence, but we are delighted to say that in November, the client received the news that he had been granted pre-settled status by the Home Office.  He lives with his aunt in Oxford and is currently studying for his A levels.

A word of thanks

“I want to say thank you to all at Asylum Welcome, especially to Tony who was very kind and helpful to my nephew with his EU Settlement! I didn’t know this charity organisation when I sent a letter to Annaliese Dodds MP for help and was kindly recommended to Asylum Welcome. I couldn’t thank you enough for Tony and everyone who helped us.”

Tony’s story…

I was born in 1951, the son of immigrants, refugees from Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. So I have always had an international outlook on life and an interest in the area of migration and the human stories that flow from it.

As a long-standing Oxford resident I remember when Asylum Welcome was first set up in the 1990s by local people such as Shelagh Ranger who wanted to provide a support and befriending service for immigration detainees at Campsfield Detention Centre. They managed to find a little office at St Colomba’s Church in the High Street and recruited volunteers such as myself to visit detainees at Campsfield.

Later on I started working as an immigration lawyer for a charity called Immigration Advisory Service and this included conducting a legal surgery for detainees at Campsfield. After representing my clients at Tribunal for many years I became a part-time Immigration Judge.

Over the years I have seen Asylum Welcome grow from a small group of volunteers based in a back room of St Colomba’s Church to become such a significant and essential provider of services for migrants and refugees in Oxfordshire with paid staff and an army of incredibly talented and conscientious volunteers.

Having now retired as an Immigration Judge, I started volunteering for Asylum Welcome last year in the Europa Welcome section to assist European nationals and their family members (primarily members of the local East Timorese community) with their applications for status under the European Union Settlement Scheme set up in the wake of Brexit. I have enjoyed being able to contribute again to Asylum Welcome, after having watched it grow to the impressive organisation that it has now become, which has helped so many people in our local community.

To be continued…

In 2021/22, Asylum Welcome supported 60% more clients than the year before with a wider range of services and a bigger budget than at any time in our history. We couldn’t do it without you. 🧡

As the national environment gets ever tougher for many of our clients and others like them, fleeing violence and persecution in so many countries, it is ever more important that we continue and extend our work.

If you can, please support our appeal today. Thank you for being part of the story.