Meet and Travel Together aims to reduce stress and anxiety for asylum seekers needing to make their way to Waterside Court in Kirkstall, Leeds, for a Home Office Interview, an asylum case hearing at Phoenix House in Thornbury, Bradford, or a biometric scan at one of the post offices in Leeds. For our service users, these are unknown destinations in an unknown city, using unfamiliar systems of transport. All too often, language creates yet another barrier, and they find themselves lost and unable to ask for help or directions. The day they are about to face already has the potential to be overwhelming, frightening, emotionally charged, and mentally and physically draining. Meeting them at Leeds Rail or Coach Stations, or Bradford Interchange, our volunteers act as guides and travel companions for their journey, providing some relief and moral support. It is also our goal to help familiarize our service users with the public transport system, so we use buses instead of personal cars or taxis.
A small amount of time with a huge amount of meaning
“Thanks so much for being there for me when I felt stuck at the railway station not knowing what to do and time was running out very fast. It made my day so much better”
Mariam arrived in the UK with her husband and three children seeking asylum from a violent and war-torn life. Very soon after arriving, her husband, the only English speaker in the family, then left her and the children to return home. Moved from her arrival point in the South to West Yorkshire then told to move again a few weeks later to the North-East, she was alone in a strange world with three children to tend to. Then she received a letter to come to Leeds for her Home Office Interview. She had never been there before. Where should she go when she got there? How would she reach her destination? And what should she do when she arrived?
A fellow asylum seeker who speaks Mariam’s language and is a volunteer with Meet and Travel Together agreed to meet Mariam at Leeds Rail Station and accompany her to Waterside Court, and was even kind enough to meet her again after the appointment to take her and her children back to the train station. Though they only spent a short time together, our volunteer’s effort greatly allayed Mariam’s fear and anxiety, and helped to keep an eye on her children during the travel.
Coordinator for Meet and Travel Together
Andrew Rathbone, LASSN volunteer and treasurer has challenged himself to raise some much needed money for LASSN.
At the advanced age of 60, I have been enticed by a “friend” into entering the Etape Caledonia on 12th May. This is an 81 mile cycle race (with a total of 6,400 feet of ascent, apparently) and the aim is to average 13 mph or faster.
This is longer and quicker than I am used to, and I am too lazy to train properly. It is likely to be a bit of a challenge.
Show your support and sponsor him at http://www.charitygiving.co.uk/andrewrathbone
LASSN’s next volunteer training is on Saturdays 20th and 27th April 2013. Please click on the relevant project you are interested in, found on the left hand side of this page. This contains information about the project and how to contact the relevant member of staff. Thank you.
We’re looking to enhance our charity trustee board by co-opting someone experienced in PR/marketing to support and advise on our press/media work. Commitment required: bi-monthly meetings, annual strategy days and providing additional one-to-one support to staff/volunteers.
We have a good relationship together – and I probably gain as much out of the friendship as he does – maybe more! Thanks for making the link, and thank you LASSN for giving me such a rewarding activity in retirement.
Peter, volunteer befriender, January 2013
For many years LASSN has produced a Directory of Services in Leedsfor Asylum Seekers and refugees – see http://lassn.org.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/directory-of-services-4th-ed.pdf
As we approach our 5th edition we’d like to turn the directory into an online resource. We have recently updated our website to use WordPress.org so now have the capabilities we need. The problem is that we now need someone with the know how to transform the directory from the old paper/Access Database version into a searchable/printable online directory.
If you can help with this then please get in touch.
What amazing volunteers we have. Shirley has been a volunteer befriender with us for 10 years. In that time she has supported 11 asylum seekers and is still befriending today.
I’m preparing for LASSN agm on 12th October. This year is our 10th anniversary of becoming a registered charity. As I look at the list of volunteers who have worked with us over the years it makes me realise how supportive and generous people are. We have had over 1,000 people volunteer. Vivien volunteered for 9 years and supported 12 families. Sarah started befriended people in 2003 and today is involved in the Grace hosting project providing a bed in her own home for destitute asylum seekers. Irmgard started in 2004 and has taught English to 8 different people. She still teaches three of them. Jackie was involved in setting up LASSN in 1999 and is still a trustee.
Thank you to everyone who has helped LASSN over the years and who has made life better for asylum seekers and refugees in Leeds.
Peter Richardson, Director