An Introduction to LASSN

If you’re here, you probably already know something about LASSN. But here’s a quick presentation (written for a presentation at Allerton Deanery Synod) that links what we do to the wider local, national and international context of people seeking refuge and asylum

Peter Richardson, LASSN Director is moving on

I will be finishing as Director of LASSN at the end of October after almost seven years. I feel privileged to have worked alongside such a brilliant group of staff, volunteers and trustees and honoured to have been involved in such important work that benefits so many asylum seekers and refugees. LASSN is looking for a new director and I’d thoroughly recommend the position (see www.lassn.org.uk). Please do tell people about the vacancy (closing date 8 October).

It’s been great to work with so many amazing people from other organisations who share my passion for making the world a better place for those fleeing persecution.

I’ve been impressed by how many people give up their personal time (and money!) to support asylum seekers and refugees and I’ve been touched by the amount of care and understanding shown.

I’ve also be astonished by the journeys and experiences of asylum seekers and refugees themselves. I’ve met some of the most resourceful, intelligent, forgiving, resilient, and interesting people in the world.

It’s not all been good – I’ve also been angry about how asylum seekers are often misrepresented and villainised, how they are made the scapegoats for many of the troubles in this country and how they are made to feel unwanted and worthless. I’d especially pick out politicians who appear scared of the immigration issue and are unprepared to stand up for what is right for fear of it affecting their election. Also I’ve been annoyed when the media pander to prejudice, misinform and misrepresent in order to sell a story.

On leaving LASSN I’m hoping to continue trying to change some of those things. I’m going to be working as a freelance writer, which will include writing about asylum seekers and refugees. I’ll also be writing fiction for adults and children. I’m hoping to work with exiled journalists to counter the negative portrayal of asylum seekers and will continue to be involved with LASSN’s Press Gang.

Hopefully you’ll still see me around and if you have a story to tell I’d be interested to hear it. I’d also love to hear any tips, advice, contacts or opportunities that you think will help me in the future.

Thanks to everyone who has made my time at LASSN some of the most pleasurable and important years of my life.

With appreciation and best wishes,

Peter Richardson, LASSN Director and aspiring writer.

Amazing volunteers

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