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The latest news from Asylum Welcome.

We also contribute to the debates on asylum and detention in the media.

Asylum Welcome’s Reopening Services Information

Thursday, July 09, 2020

Asylum Welcome’s Reopening Services Information

We are delighted to announce that, given new government guidelines, we will resume full services from 15 July and our offices will begin to reopen to clients as follows:

Clients will be able to enter the office for appointments or to make them. We are sorry that we can’t operate the Welcome Centre or computer access yet. We will do so as soon as it is safe to do so.  

Please come promptly for appointments arriving just ahead of time as our waiting space is limited. People will be kindly asked to leave after their meeting.

If you have any Covid symptoms or have been in contact with anyone who has, please do not come to our office and instead seek advice by phone or email.

To get further information or for general queries please call 01865 722082 or 07740108550 or email office@asylum-welcome.org 

Adult and Family Service: please call 01865 722082 during working hours or send us an email to advice@asylum-welcome.org

Youth Service: please call 01865 722082 during working hours on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday or send an email to youth@asylum-welcome.org

Europa Welcome: please call 07719 128054 during working hours on Monday and Thursday or send an email to europawelcome@asylum-welcome.org

Shared Talents (Education and Employment): from 20th of July please call 01865 722082 on Monday and Thursday, or send an email to: employment@asylum-welcome.org or to education@asylum-welcome.org

Huntercombe Project: please call 07742 249539 or send an email to office@asylum-welcome.org

Food Bank: food parcels will be available to clients between 11am and 1pm on Tuesdays.

Bike Project: please write to bike@asylum-welcome.org and office@asylum-welcome.org 

One-year countdown to apply to the EU Settled Status

Tuesday, June 30, 2020


One-year countdown to apply to the EU Settled Status

 

There is still one year to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. EU citizens and their families have one year from today until 30 June 2021 to apply for settled status and Europa Welcome is here to help!

 

Over the last year 872 people accessed our Europa Welcome service at Asylum Welcome. We supported 565 people to apply for settled or pre-settled status. 350 EU citizens who submitted applications with our support received positive decisions from the Home Office.

 

Our remarkable team of eight volunteers includes four OISC EUSS Level 1 qualified volunteers who were all trained and accredited during the last year and four trained to the OISC EUSS L1 are now waiting to be accredited.

 

If you would like our help all you need is your passport/ID and evidence of your residence. If you need help to apply, contact us: europawelcome@asylum-welcome.org and we’ll be more than happy to help you. To find out more, please visit: https://www.asylum-welcome.org/europa-welcome.

 

Late last year a lovely elderly woman who received her settled status with the support of our wonderful Europa Welcome volunteers felt so grateful and pleased that she very generously sent us a donation to thank us for helping her, and as her contribution to support AW helping others. You can read her lovely hand-written note in the image above. It is a lot harder for elderly EEA citizens who might have been living here for a long time never having to worry about their immigration status suddenly finding themselves having to prove their residence to apply to get their status and become legal residents because of Brexit. That is hard for them – and for many of us - to grasp. There is also the issue of difficulty the elderly can have with providing a digital proof of status rather than a residence card. We have found it is disproportionately harder for the elderly to prove their EUSS status online digitally due to age and related health and other problems.

 

For example, another client had lived in the UK since the 70s, having moved over here when she and her British husband got married. She had become quite worried about Brexit and what it would mean, to the point where she was having sleepless nights and anxiety attacks. When she came to see us we discussed her situation and her rights, and established that she had been given ILR shortly after her arrival here. However, she was still concerned about her situation and so we helped her complete and submit her application. When the screen displayed that she would be considered for Settled Status, she began to cry because she was so relieved. She has since been given her Settled Status.

 

Another client was in her 80s, and had moved to the UK in the 1950s. She barely used technology and so she would not have been able to complete the process herself (we posted her the Home Office letter as she doesn't even use email with ease). We explained the process to her, and as she had worked her whole life, there was a good match with HMRC and DWP records. She has since been given her Settled Status, and (as with the client above) commented that it was a weight off her shoulders as she had been worried about her future. She explicitly said that she would not have been able to complete the application without us. She says she is now going to apply for British citizenship.

 

These cases exemplify just how concerned people are about their rights, and combined with an absence of technological knowledge, are but a couple of important reasons these clients came to us needing help. Cases like this highlight our concerns about the lack of a physical document to prove status, as well as the reliance on technology to complete the process: both of these clients are well-established in the UK, they have spent their entire adult lives here, their grasp of language is perfect, and yet without support, they would not have been able to apply and in theory, would have become illegal from July 2021.

 

Please help us spread the word and encourage anyone you may know that still has not applied to EU Settled Status to give us a call and find out how we can help. 

Support for homeless people, including those with no recourse to public funds (NRPF), during and after the Covid-19 pandemic

Saturday, June 27, 2020
Asylum Welcome has recently signed two important letters addressed to national and local authorities urging them to commit to providing ongoing shelter and support to all those experiencing or at risk of homelessness during and after the Covid-19 pandemic, and to do so regardless of immigration status. We are also publicly calling on the government to end the ‘no recourse to public funds’ (NRPF) regime, which exposes many people living in the UK to destitution, including rough sleeping.

Asylum Welcome, in partnership and solidarity with a plethora of local and national refugee organisations, has signed an open letter to local authorities urging them not to evict homeless people with NRPF from accommodation provided through the Covid-19 homelessness response and asking them to call publicly for an end to NRPF.

Nobody should be forced to sleep rough, regardless of their immigration status. Nobody should be forced to leave the country they call ‘home’.

In light of the above, we are asking your local authority to take the following steps:

1. Commit to continuing to support everybody who is, or is at risk of, sleeping rough, and to do so regardless of immigration status

2. Urgently and publicly advocate to central government for the removal of all NRPF restrictions, including those that apply to undocumented migrants and EEA citizens without a qualifying right to reside, to ensure that everyone can access shelter and meet their basic needs during and after the Covid-19 pandemic.

3. Provide assurances that homeless people’s data will never be shared with the Home Office without their informed consent and that nobody will be offered ‘voluntary return’ or ‘reconnection’ to their country of origin as a ‘single service offer’.

To read the full letter, please click here.


Asylum Welcome together with British Red Cross also wrote to the Minister for Local Government and Homelessness, Luke Hall, MP to all local authorities in England on 28 May 2020 regarding the next phase of support for rough sleepers during the Covid-19 pandemic. As part of the next steps plan that Oxford City Council have been asked to put in place, we request a commitment that this plan will be developed and delivered in partnership with local agencies, and that it supports people with no recourse to public funds (NRPF) you are currently accommodating under public health powers, to find sustainable housing options as the government relaxes its lockdown measures.

We are now looking to Oxford City Council to lead the way with an effective next steps strategy for people with NRPF, and to include this in the action plan. Specifically, we ask that the plan: 
 
1. Works in partnership with relevant local actors to ensure that everyone receives relevant independent advice and support to secure suitable longer-term accommodation and sustainable outcomes.

2. Upholds the best interests of people who are medically shielding and enables them to remain in local authority accommodation.

3. Ensures that no-one is evicted without a move-on option and provides people with NRPF as much reasonable notice as possible (at least 12 weeks) to vacate local authority accommodation.

To read the full letter, please click here.

Asylum Welcome seeks new Trustees – Could that be you?

Saturday, June 27, 2020

Asylum Welcome is amazing. Our small staff team and over 140 volunteers support asylum seekers, refugees, and vulnerable migrants, who seek refuge in Oxford. We provide everything from food and clothes to advice, visits, legal support, education, and assistance finding employment. Asylum Welcome is a financially stable organisation that transforms the lives of those it serves.

We have an increasing demand for Asylum Welcome’s services at a time when we also need to transform how we deliver services. We are seeking to appoint individuals to our Board. We are particularly keen to hear from people who have first-hand experience of refugee and asylum-seeking experience, or migration.


We are looking for people who will:

Be committed to the rights and welfare of refugees asylum seekers and vulnerable migrants and to Asylum Welcome’s vision, mission and values.

Have demonstrable expertise and/or experience of a relevant field, particularly in one of the following:

  • Knowledge of the refugee experience, research, and good links with Universities
  • Knowledge and experience of Volunteer Management
  • Experience of developing relationships with partner organisations, stakeholders, and supporters
  • Digital technology, communication, and marketing skills

For further information, please click Trustee JD


Get in touch...

Email your CV and a short (no more than 1 page) covering letter setting out why you want to join us and how you meet the person specification to Val Johnson Co-Chair of Trustees at trustee@asylum-welcome.org.


Tony Samuel and Val Johnson, Co-Chairs of the Asylum Welcome Board

Asylum Welcome Refugee Week Homeless Appeal 2020

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

As lockdown restrictions begin to be lifted and central government funding to support homeless people with temporary accommodation during Covid-19 lockdown comes to an end we are extremely concerned that some homeless people, particularly those with No Recourse to Public Funds, NRPF, may be evicted from council-provided accommodation and be forced to return to destitution.

Despite the efforts of some councils, many homeless people, particularly those with NRPF, have remained without shelter during this pandemic. Others have experienced inadequate support once accommodated.

The theme of this year’s Refugee Week is ‘Imagine.’ For some of our clients, having fled violence and persecution, their imagination is the one place of safety they can turn to when the real world is so difficult. This Refugee Week, we want to ask if you could consider making a special donation in support of Oxford’s asylum seeker and refugee community.

Most of us can barely imagine this, yet homelessness is one of the most critical challenges facing many of our clients. Half of the refugees, asylum seekers and their families whom we see each year face a substantial risk of homelessness – and this has been exacerbated by COVID-19. We are currently focusing on providing wraparound support to approximately 100 people – those who are the most vulnerable and the least likely to be helped by other services. 

Many of our clients are now homeless or inadequately housed and many have no recourse to basic support services. Some of our clients who don’t normally have a right to public support have been provided with temporary housing. But this will end when the COVID-19 emergency ends. We must be there for them, and we need your support more than ever as we turn our attention to safe housing.

If you would like to find out more about our Homeless Appeal and how you can help please click here.

Thank you.

Celebrating Refugee Week, 15-21 June – Imagine!

Tuesday, June 09, 2020

As we celebrate Refugee Week in 15-21 June please take a look below at a series of fabulous events and activities organised by Refugee Resource, Oxford City of Sanctuary and Oxford Human Rights Festival.

This year's theme for Refugee Week is 'imagine' - so we'd love to see people in Oxfordshire unleashing their creativity to positively embrace refugees and imagine the kind of place we want to see around us.

Don’t forget to share and get involved with this fantastic creative activity organised by Refugee Resource for all to be involved!

Step one - IMAGINE

Step two – SHARE

Step three – SUPPORT

For more info please click here.

To register to participate in the event please click here.


Calendar of Events


To download all of the Oxford Refugee Week Calendar of Events, please click the image above or here.

16 June 17:30-19:00: The Personal Journey of a Young Female stateless refugee Basma Eldoukhi

By Oxford Human Rights Festival

For more info and to register please click hereThis is an online event.

Basma shares her personal journey as a young female stateless refugee who has made her way to the UK to study and live after winning a prestigious Chevening scholarship.

Basma reflects on her personal and professional life and gives an insight into her work in supporting refugees and how her experience changed her perspectives. She will accompany us through her story of resilience and solidarity and reflect on her recent volunteering journey in Oxford with the NHS to support the COVID 19 response efforts.

Professor Cathrine Brun, CENDEP will be in conversation with Basma. There will be an opportunity for Q&A.


18 June, 18:30-20:00: Imagine Oxfordshire with Refugee Resource

Join Refugee Resource as they share insights, poetry & stories from staff, volunteers, clients and supporters about refugee experiences in Oxfordshire. 

Find out more and to register please click hereThis is an online event.

Topics and contributors include: 'Journey of a Refugee', presented by Sushila Dhall, Capacity Building Lead and Counsellor: Sushila is educated to MSt (Oxford) level in Psychodynamic Practice, which is UKCP level, and has been practicing as a psychotherapist for 20 years

Poetry, written & shared by members of Refugee Resource's women's service; a group for women who are refugees, asylum seekers or vulnerable migrants, providing opportunities for social activities, workshops, employment support and more.

Creative submissions by clients and supporters who have responded to our creative challenge, 'Imagine Oxfordshire'.


19 June 17:00-19:00: Narratives of Hope, Solidarity and Resilience.

This event is part of Oxford City of Sanctuary and Oxford Human Rights Festival

For more info and to register please click hereThis is an online event.

Panel: Basma El Doukhi (Palestinian stateless refugee), Oxford Lord Mayor; Leader of the Green Group; Green Group shadow member for finance, leisure, parks and sports, Cllr Craig SimmonsChaker Khazal founder of Candle of HopeLucy Nichol Services Delivery & Development Manager at Refugee Resource in Oxford and Razan Al Sous founder of Squeaky Cheese/Yorkshare Dama Cheese.

Panel discussion will be guided by Basma El Doukhi a Masters candidate at the Centre of Development and Emergency Practice at Oxford Brookes University.

We can connect and build bridges with each other as humans, when we overcome our stereotypes, assumptions and judgements.

How can creative and interconnected practices, ideas, projects, initiatives, and stories positively contribute and enhance to the way and models refugees tell their stories, how they are perceived by the western audiences!?

How can the voice of refugees and asylum seekers can be reflected through their personal and community stories and journeys of censorship and exile creativity!?

What is our role to share, promote and enhance refugees and asylum seekers perceptions and stories and change the narratives through the lens of resilience!?

We will explore together ideas, projects and lessons learned about the resilience through the lens of individuals, initiatives, community organizations focusing on development and humanitarian aid sector.

Lets create and celebrate narratives for hope, resilience, acceptance and solidarity.

We will explore the role of cities of sanctuary in welcoming diversity and particularity Oxford and celebrate its achievements.

This evening discussion will be followed by a Q & A.




COVID-19 advice for patients in 60 languages

Monday, May 11, 2020

You can find very valuable COVID-19 advice for patients in 60 languages, including Tetum, at Doctors of the World webpage, produced in partnership with the British Red Cross and other partners and individuals: https://www.doctorsoftheworld.org.uk/coronavirus-information/

Volunteer Coordinator position available at Asylum Welcome

Friday, May 01, 2020

Volunteer Coordinator position available at Asylum Welcome

Asylum Welcome is an Oxford based refugee support organisation with a small staff complement and large volunteer workforce. The volunteers are involved throughout the organisation, and recruiting, engaging, supporting and managing the volunteers is fundamental to the organisation’s successful delivery of its mission. The Coordinator, working across the organisation, reporting to the Director and supported by all staff, plays a vital role in helping everyone to be as effective as possible.

For Job Description please click here.

Please submit your CV and a cover letter addressing the Person Specification to: office@asylum-welcome.org

Closing date: 21 May 2020

I want to make a difference

Friday, May 01, 2020

Great editorial in the Oxford Times (30 April 2020) on how Asylum Welcome is supporting asylum seekers and refugees in Oxford during the pandemic and the appointment of Mark Goldring as Asylum Welcome’s new Director. 


An article on the front page also recognises the importance of all of our work, and our efforts to keep it going through this lockdown.

Oxford is Open - Even in Lockdown

Friday, May 01, 2020

Oxford is Open - Even in Lockdown

A great article in the Daily Info (23 April 2020) showing how Asylum Welcome continues to open its doors & support our most vulnerable clients. A tribute to our supporters, volunteers & staff making this happen.

To read, please visit: https://www.dailyinfo.co.uk/blog/16414/oxford-is-open-even-in-lockdown