The theme of this year’s Refugee Week is inspired by the remarkable ‘I have a dream’ speech, in which Martin Luther King said “We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall march ahead. We cannot turn back.”

Here at Asylum Welcome, we are absolutely committed to that message and we are immensely grateful for your commitment too. We stand alongside asylum seekers, refugees and vulnerable migrants who face extraordinary difficulties in their lives. We are here to help – and, with your support, we do!

I’m writing to ask if you could mark Refugee Week yourself by making a special donation in support of, and in solidarity with, Oxfordshire’s asylum seeker and refugee community?

Our clients have been so badly affected by Covid-19 – not just in terms of health, but economically, with housing, with worsening delays in their asylum claims, and with unprecedented concerns about loved ones abroad.

To add to these difficulties, the government is proposing new draconian laws which would demonise asylum seekers who arrive in the UK through unsafe routes. We believe that this plan is driven more by a desire to protect our borders than by a responsibility to offer protection to those genuinely fearing persecution.

In the whirlwind of so many disturbing news stories, I want to share Adel’s story (not his real name) as an example of our commitment to the message “We cannot walk alone.”

Adel has endured the unimaginable. However, he is determined to make a life for himself, away from the fear and persecution that he faced at home. Adel came to the UK on a lorry when he was 16 years old, escaping from a war-torn country in the Middle East. He was put under the care of the local authority in Kent. Adel went through the schooling system and then moved to Oxford; he got a driver’s licence and started working.

When Adel became an adult, his asylum claim was rejected, and he could no longer work. Adel was made homeless during the pandemic but is currently being accommodated under the ‘Everyone In’ scheme that arose in response to Covid-19.

After nine long, hard years, Adel’s asylum claim was finally recently accepted. However, the hostel where he is staying has now issued him with an eviction notice and he must find new accommodation. This has been a huge blow for Adel.

Asylum Welcome has supported Adel throughout, ensuring that he has never had to “walk alone.” This has included immigration support, financial assistance through our hardship fund, access to welfare benefits, health support, and referral to a homelessness project – keeping him housed throughout the pandemic. Adel is now accessing broader support through our education and employment service, a crucial step as he moves forward with his life.

Sadly, Adel’s story is not unique. We see so many people who bravely aspire to live in the UK – free from fear and with a burning desire to improve their lives and to help others, including through work or volunteering. This is why we also stand as proud supporters of the campaign ‘Oxfordshire has a heart – and it’s orange’.

Last month, a new national coalition was launched called 
Together With Refugees. The coalition is calling for a more effective and humane approach to the UK’s asylum system. The coalition’s symbol is an orange heart, the colour of the refugee flag. The heart is a unifying symbol to show refugees and asylum seekers that we are fighting with them. As Martin Luther King said, “We cannot walk alone.” We walk with those in need and we walk with you too, as our supporters.

Could you help refugees and asylum seekers by making a Refugee Week donation of £20, £40, or whatever you can afford? This will go toward providing essential services to the asylum seekers and refugees that we assist every day.

With your support, we will help many more people like Adel. If you haven’t done so, would you consider making your donation a standing order? This helps us to plan for the future.

You can also display an 
orange heart in your window or through social media, tagging in @AsylumWelcome, to show refugees and asylum seekers that we stand with them. You can also print out this orange heart slip (by clicking here or clicking on the image below), write a message of support and send it to us so we can display them in our Welcome Centre. The messages will be read by our clients and shared online to show that the people of Oxfordshire stand together with refugees. You can also visit our website for more information on how to get involved. 

Thank you so much for all your support for Asylum Welcome; it really is so crucial. I hope that over time I may have the chance to meet many of you and to thank you in person.

With kind regards and deep gratitude,

PS. Refugee Week coincides with UN World Refugee Day on Sunday 20th June. This year marks 70 years since the inception of the UN’s 1951 Refugee Convention. It was ground-breaking then and remains vital today. Your support now – during Refugee Week – couldn’t be more important. Thank you.