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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.