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The latest news from Asylum Welcome.

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

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:

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:

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:

Mark Goldring - Thinking global, acting local: a personal journey

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Thinking global, acting local: a personal journey

By Mark Goldring

I’m certainly as excited as I have ever been starting a new job. Leading Asylum Welcome, a small, local charity, focussed on people in the Oxford area where I live, and nearly all of whose workforce are volunteers might not seem the most obvious step after a career spent in larger, mostly international organisations, but it feels so right, for me, now.

After leaving Oxfam last year I knew I wanted to use what I’ve learnt in a very different way. For a long time I wasn’t sure exactly what that meant. I’ve spent the last year supporting leaders of charities of many shapes and sizes as they attempt to adapt and improve their own organisations. I’ve enjoyed that, learnt from it and will endeavour to keep some of it going. But deep down I gradually realised that I prefer be the person trying, if not always successfully, to get things right, rather than the one telling others how they should do so.  

So why a local refugee charity?

Like others of my generation I vividly remember the arrival of Ugandan Asians in England in the ‘seventies and the Vietnamese ”boat people” a few years later. I volunteered, teaching some new arrivals English in my local community and watched how they tried to adjust to life in the U.K. But what really brought alive the reality and humanity of those who have to flee their homes to me was working in the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan in the ‘eighties. For all it’s image as a Himalayan Shangrila, Bhutan’s rulers were threatened by a growing Hindu population and drove more than a hundred thousand people out of the country. I’d known many of them as active and loyal citizens, farmers in their home villages or working in the public service across the country. I then met them again, stranded in overcrowded camps in Nepal to which they’d fled when driven out, struggling with twenty years of uncertainty and an uncomfortable dependence on others. I then followed their lives again as some were eventually resettled across the world. When eventually allowed to work, those in the U.K. became active and productive citizens, rebuilding their lives and contributing to our society, while never losing their dreams of home and of reuniting with their families.

As, over the decades, I’ve met and worked with refugees fleeing Afghanistan, Syria, Myanmar, Iraq and so many other countries, I’ve seen them in the way I saw the Bhutanese I knew:- as people, as friends  driven out of their homes but unable to prove why to a disbelieving world; met with indifference and  even hostility while only wanting to be given a chance, an opportunity to rebuild the lives so cruelly torn from them.  Behind the statistics bandied about by nervous governments, everyone has such a story.

I value the way Asylum Welcome engages with refugees and asylum seekers in and around Oxford as individuals, all with their own stories. They are, first and foremost, people living in and among us, people struggling with what can be a harsh, even cruel, system and needing our help. We certainly have to work on tackling the issues that drive people out of their homes and their countries, and indeed on those laws, rules and behaviours that make it so hard for them even if they are among the tiny minority of displaced people who do make it to Britain. But we also have to respect individuals’ rights and dignity, help them rebuild their lives in a society to which they can and do contribute so much. Help them belong; help them thrive. I look forward to playing my part in that.

I began my working career as a volunteer, teaching in Borneo, and have valued volunteering ever since. Leading VSO, the international volunteering organisation, I saw the power of shared endeavour; volunteers and the people they live and work with together doing what they can to improve lives and offer opportunity. Oxfam and Mencap, which I also worked for, both have many times more volunteers than they have paid staff, -many of the local Mencaps across the country are staffed entirely by volunteers and do amazing work with and for disabled people in their local communities. So I’m excited by working for an organisation whose workforce is over 90% volunteer; a workforce  so real to the people it serves, so clearly an expression of our values of shared humanity,  and yet an effort uncaptured in the financial statements either of organisations or indeed, on a grander scale, of our country.

And so, in many ways this next move is daunting, I’m going to have to learn, to adapt, to work in very different ways and with a different scale or resources. The people whose lives my work and decisions will affect are all around me, not across continents. But in other ways working with Asylum Welcome will be familiar; an extension of the values, work and worldview of other fine organisations that tackle exclusion and the lack of opportunity in their own ways. It really is thinking global and acting local.



Mark joins Asylum Welcome as Director on 20th April, having previously led Oxfam, Mencap and VSO. 

Asylum Welcome is an Oxford-based charity supporting refugees and asylum seekers, continuing to offer all possible support during the Covid restrictions.

Asylum Welcome appoints new Director – Mark Goldring

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

We are delighted to welcome Mark Goldring as the new Director of Asylum Welcome. Mark brings a wealth of NGO management experience to strengthen and develop our work. Joining Asylum Welcome Mark has come full circle from his first work with refugees from Bhutan in the 1980s, back now to work with refugees in Oxford.

Mark commented “I want to use what I’ve learnt leading and advising organisations to contribute to the well-being of some of the most vulnerable people in our society. Asylum Welcome has a powerful track record of doing just that and I look forward to working with volunteers and staff on this important work. I have worked on refugee issues across the world, as well as volunteering with individual asylum seekers in our local community. Having worked on a global stage, I now want to make a difference locally. I hope that my experience will help us improve the way we receive and support refugees and asylum seekers, both in Oxford and nationally.

The trustee Board greatly appreciated all that Kate Smart had contributed to Asylum Welcome in her years as Director and were pleased to have a strong field of candidates from which to choose her successor. To make sure we included the all-important staff and volunteer perspectives, Almas Farzi, also known as Navid, and Pam Wright were on the selection panel.

Since holding senior roles in VSO, Mencap and Oxfam, Mark has been using his experience in advising small charities on their management and planning.

Currently most of Asylum Welcome’s face-to-face work by both staff and volunteers is suspended in favour of telephone advice and help through hardship payments. Mark will be phasing in his work with the Asylum Welcome team in the coming weeks, taking account of the current Coronavirus restrictions. We all look forward to getting back to normal working in support of asylum-seekers and refugees, under Mark’s leadership. 

For further information please contact Marcus Thompson, as Chair of Trustees through the recruitment ( or Mark Goldring (

Asylum Welcome's COVID-19 Hardship Fund Urgent Appeal

Friday, April 10, 2020

Asylum Welcome's COVID-19 Hardship Fund Urgent Appeal

Asylum Welcome is responding to the Coronavirus crisis, and we would like to ask for your support in helping us cope with this unprecedented threat. We are all facing challenging times, but none more so than our most vulnerable clients.

Whilst it is only right that we protect ourselves and our loved ones right now, please take a moment to consider the plight of our clients. Some are homeless, living in very poor housing or ‘sofa surfing’ with friends, and have no recourse to public funds due to their immigration status. Many are also reliant upon support from their friends and people they know, but are at risk of losing this due to the uncertainty of so many families or individuals needing to self-isolate. 

We have responded promptly to the risks associated with the spread of Coronavirus, in line with government guidelines and advice, and as a result our services are substantially reduced.

However, be assured that Asylum Welcome will not abandon our clients, and we are taking every possible step to continue to help as many people as we can. But we need your support more than ever at this exceptionally difficult time.

Your donation would allow us to provide financial help or supermarket vouchers to our most vulnerable clients. This is essential for ensuring minimum contact during this lockdown period. We will be closely monitoring our Food Bank and are hoping to subsidise this with cash or gift cards wherever appropriate.

Please click here to find out how you can help.

Stay at home: guidance on social distancing, for vulnerable people and for households with possible COVID-19 infection

Monday, March 23, 2020

This guidance is for everyone, including children. It advises on social distancing measures we should all be taking to reduce social interaction between people in order to reduce the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19). It is intended for use in situations where people are living in their own homes, with or without additional support from friends, family and carers.

Please click the links below to read the UK Government’s guidance on social distancing for everyone in the UK, including children, and protecting older people and vulnerable people.

For English click here

For Arabic click here

For French click here

For Polish click here

For Chinese-Mandarin click here

Please click the links below to read the UK Government’s stay at home: guidance for households with possible coronavirus (COVID-19) infection.

For English click here

For Arabic click here

For French click here

For Polish click here

For Chinese-Mandarin click here

Service closures at Asylum Welcome due to COVID-19

Monday, March 23, 2020

In the light of government advice on reducing the spread of Coronavirus, Asylum Welcome will be reducing its services substantially, with immediate effect.

We are taking these steps because we are very mindful of the need to ensure the safety of our volunteer community, as many are of an age that they need to take care not to catch the virus. We feel a responsibility to protect those most at risk, and a responsibility not to put undue pressure on the remaining diminished workforce.

We have a carefully developed plan to see Asylum Welcome through the next month or two, and we will review this and issue updates as needed. At the heart of this plan are commitments to maintaining firstly the most essential services for the most vulnerable clients and secondly robust channels of communication with clients, volunteers and other service providers.

Updates will appear on our website. We want to give clear messages about service changes. We want volunteers to keep talking to and supporting each other and to us. We want clients to understand that they are not abandoned. This situation is temporary and our sincere wish is that the Asylum Welcome community emerges stronger than ever.

Services available for the next few months

For asylum seekers and refugees

Among the many hundreds of people accessing our services every year, we assess that there are currently approximately 35-40 individuals who would suffer severe detriment if we closed temporarily and who cannot easily be supported elsewhere.

A much-reduced core team of staff and volunteers will ensure that advice appointments and hardship payments will continue for this group on Tuesdays and Fridays and food parcels will be available to them between 11 and 1 on Tuesdays.

Advice and assistance will be concentrated on the following topics: addressing homelessness and destitution, making Asylum Support applications, responding to urgent health needs, and brokering urgent communication with the Home Office.

We know that new people with urgent needs will continue to arrive in Oxford. If you are aware of new arrivals who are unsupported then get in touch with us.

The reception desk will be closed but you can leave an ansaphone message on 01865 722082.

Staff remain available by email and work mobiles throughout the week and you can also reach our services through the general email.

NB you will no longer be able to just ask clients to turn up at our centre.

For EU citizens

During the COVID-19 crisis, Europa Welcome face-to-face appointments to help EU citizens to apply for Settled Status are postponed. But remember, you have until 30 June 2021 to make an application.

The Europa Welcome team are still available, by email and mobile phone: 07719 128054  to help with your application and respond to any of your queries regarding the EU Settlement Scheme.

We will be dealing with calls and messages on our normal service days and hours: on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays between 1 and 4 pm and on Thursdays between 10 am and 1pm. Please leave a clear message with name and contact details if there is no answer and someone will get back to you as soon as they can.

The following services will close temporarily

The Welcome Centre/drop-in advice and support

Venda youth club

Shared Talents - Education and Employment advice and ESOL lessons (although teachers may keep in touch with students by phone)

Huntercombe visiting

Recycled bicycles

Non-urgent advice appointments for adults, families and young people

Use of the Welcome Centre out-of-hours by refugee community organisations

Meetings and events are cancelled.

Bike, food and financial donations

We will not accept bike donations in the next few months.

Food donations we will now accept only on Fridays. We have sufficient food-stocks to cope with a short-term reduction in donations and will keep you informed of needs as they change.

Supporters can continue to make financial donations online or by bank transfer.

These are the main points of our plan for the next month or two.

Thank you again for your support.