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“What can I do to help refugees from Afghanistan?”

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2021-09-03T08:56:19+01:002nd September, 2021|Categories: Asylum, Headline posts, Resources|

A lot of people have been in touch over the last week, with unbelievably generous offers of help, housing, volunteering - all asking to know ways they can help refugees from Afghanistan. We are unbelievably grateful, and slightly embarrassed that we've yet to hear of any Afghans who've arrived in Leeds on the various resettlement schemes. So we've helped to draft this joint reponse from Leeds Migration Partnership so the refugee charities of Leeds give out clear and consistent messages. We are told that when people arrive, they will be provided with wrap-around care, and that the UK Government have this in hand. That said - despite "Operation Warm Welcome" - the UK Government plans to make the welcome for refugees who arrive without invitation less than warm. Including Afghan refugees who are not eligible for this wrap-around care. You might agree. You might disagree. But we'd like you to know more about it - and how it connects to the situation of folks who aren't lucky enough to be airlifted out of dangerous situations. You can find more info on this after this briefing sheet. Most of the organisations working with refugees in Leeds are working with people who have come to the UK without an invitation. Some of those people are from Afghanistan, but most refugees in Leeds are not eligible for the help offered to people who’ve been hand-picked by the Home Office. And although the Home Office have asked that all offers of help for Afghan people go through them – it’s actually much better to contact the Council (if you have an empty property that could be used to house people) or Migration Yorkshire – who are coordinating things on a regional level. They have produced an excellent in depth explanation of how people can offer help. Collecting, storing, cleaning and organising goods is an expensive and time consuming task. Charity shops like St Vincent’s do this brilliantly well, as well as offering support to people seeking asylum as well as refugees. It’s generally cheaper to buy new from Asda/Primark. Plus, from a human perspective – there’s enormous dignity in not being forced to wear second hand undies. If UK people want to show support for refugees more generally – there’s an opportunity for them to speak out against the UK Government’s New Plan for Immigration. This New Plan intends to create a two tier system for refugees. One group will arrive at the invitation of the UK Government, selected from particular refugee camps. These are called resettlement schemes. If the New Plan passes into law, the other group – the people who have not arrived on UK Government chartered planes or at UK invitation – will be said to have arrived here illegally. So even if people seeking refuge persuade the Home Office that their lives are in danger, and they cannot return home (for example that they are from Afghanistan and are wanted by the Taliban) they will be treated [...]


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2018-11-09T13:53:41+00:0024th May, 2018|Categories: Asylum, Destitution, Headline posts|

We're proud to announce our new #outandabout project, which aims to ensure every destitute asylum seeker in Leeds who's over 50 can get a bus pass if they need one to help them access accommodation, support and to keep in touch with friends. Without no entitlement to any public benefits, and no right to work, people rely on charitable organisations and volunteer hosts for the very basic necessities. Maintaining social connections in such circumstances is a challenge, especially when a host location may be miles away from centres of social activities, like a place of worship or a weekly choir.  Something as simple as a weekly bus pass, plus the confidence to use public transport to get around the city, can make a huge difference in this situation. LASSN will provide passes for asylum seekers, then volunteer befrienders and hosts will support them to build confidence in traveling independently, thus leading to a more fulfilling daily life Please note, all referrals to this project need to come through British Red Cross and PAFRAS Case Workers Many thanks to Big Lottery Fund, Leeds Community Foundation and Time to Shine for helping to make this happen.

Health on the Margins Conference, 27th June 2017

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2018-11-09T12:34:44+00:0027th June, 2017|Categories: Asylum, Destitution|Tags: , |

I was asked to speak at Health On The Margins today, a conference organized by Leeds GATE, to discuss and spread ideas about collaborative ways of working with marginalised groups. The main theme of the day was how to work in collaboration and in solidarity with communities and individuals, using ideas and techniques drawn from the Asset Based Community Development movement. As well as sessions led by LeedsGATE (on Asset Mapping), John Walsh of Leeds Community Healthcare - formerly of York Street Health Practice), and Gemma Scire of Basis Yorkshire - I offered some reflections on how groups might work more effectively with refugee and asylum seekers, and made reference to some examples of excellence provided by other organisations in Leeds - from Leeds Refugee Forum, Women's Health Befriending before discussing the impact of LASSN's own Grace Hosting project. In particular I emphasised the importance of the small, inexpensive things that make life better and health more possible for people with limited options. A community centre that costs less that £30 an hour to keep open, but which provides space for more than 30 different community organisations. A conversation with someone who's been through something similar, that validates your experience, gives you confidence and helps you feel less alone. A bed for the night, and a friendly welcome that gives you a safe night's sleep and a base to work from. A bus pass that gives you the freedom to move, and to make the most of the city. I also suggested some specific ways in which allies and people working in health might show solidarity with asylum seekers and refugees. Here's the presentation


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2017-03-18T07:09:53+00:0018th March, 2017|Categories: Asylum, Befriending, Destitution, English at Home, Grace Hosting, Hosting, Resouces, Resources|Tags: , , , |

Many people contact LASSN to ask how we've set up English at Home or Grace Hosting or Befriending. In response to this demand for info, we've put together a page with various documents and links to help other people who are thinking about doing something similar. Click here for more information We're proud to share what we've done, and to explain why we do things in a particular way. All we ask is that if you use anything of ours, you credit us, and share with other people too.

LASSN appear on Made in Leeds TV

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2016-03-29T15:01:13+01:008th December, 2015|Categories: Asylum, Destitution, One World Leeds, Refugee|

On December 2nd 2015, LASSN were invited to take part in a local TV discussion on Made in Leeds TV. Jon, the LASSN director, joined Lorn Gledhill from Regional Asylum Activism and Ali Mahgoub from the Leeds Refugee Forum in discussing the impact of refugee settlement on Leeds, and the impact of Leeds on resettled refugees. The programme is in 2  parts, and is well worth a look. Part 1 Part 2

#refugeeswelcome – the Public Meeting at West Yorkshire Playhouse, 15th September 2015

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2018-11-09T13:43:47+00:0018th September, 2015|Categories: Asylum, Headline posts, Refugee, Volunteering|

On Tuesday night, a couple of hundred citizens of Leeds pitched up to the West Yorkshire Playhouse to find out how they could respond to the Refugee Crisis unfolding in Europe. The event was organised by Leeds City of Sanctuary, with help fromTogether for Peace, Migration Yorkshire and  Leeds Asylum Seekers Support Network. The focus of the meeting, was on helping turn concern into action, and to help people find the most practical and useful ways of helping out. Although Leeds has not yet seen an increase in the number of asylum seekers and refugees resulting from the current crisis, we are already home to people from Afghanistan, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Sudan and many other countries from across the world. Many families are struggling with reduced financial support, and some are even having to sleep rough. After Ed Carlisle briefly set the international and local scene, Aster went on to speak movingly of her passage into the UK, and the reception she received when she arrived. The big group then split down into smaller workshops – themed around activism, campaigning, teaching english, collecting things, volunteering, arts and faith, health and other topics. The aim of each group was to help people find a way of helping out that suited their skills and interests. We hope each of those groups will feed back and give us updates on their progress. Many thanks to West Yorkshire Playhouse – the world’s first Theatre of Sanctuary – who also offered participants discounted tickets for that night’s performance of The Glass Menagerie. That same evening, Leeds City council announced their intention to help resettle 200 refugees over the next 2 years, and to ensure third sector organisations supporting refugees and asylum seekers receive money to safeguard their essential services.

Grace Hosting – an update for new volunteers

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2018-11-09T13:42:22+00:0011th September, 2015|Categories: Asylum, Destitution, Grace Hosting, Headline posts, Volunteering|

Many thanks to everyone who has contacted us to offer accommodation through our Grace Hosting Scheme. If you are offering to specifically house new refugee arrivals in the UK, you need to know that it is unlikely that the UK will be taking in any refugees direct from Europe. The Prime Minister has pledged to take 20,000 Syrian refugee (children) direct from refugee camps in the Middle East over a period of five years, and is relying on local authorities to find places for them. That may be with host families, but it will not be a quick process. The UK pledged to take 2,000 from those camps in 2013, and up to now we have only taken 216, so unless there is huge pressure on government to change policy, many offers of help will not be taken up. If you want to urge the government to do more, there are a number of good petitions being circulated. Hundreds of thousands have signed up already. You can find them on , 38 degrees and avaaz People who come to the UK and claim asylum (31,000 in total last year) are given accommodation while their case is being heard. That means that there is little opportunity to accommodate them in host families, except for some unaccompanied minors, who may be placed in foster families. If you are interested in doing that, please contact your local social services for information.  Home for Good is an excellent initiative working with churches to place children in families, including refugee children. LASSN Hosts offer accommodation to asylum seekers whose claims have been refused, and who have been made homeless and destitute in the UK*, and refugees (people who have had their asylum applications accepted) who have not yet been able to sort out accommodation for themselves If you think this is something you can help with, then please complete our online application form, and let us know if you can attend attend one of our breifing sessions on Thursday 24th September 6.30 – 7.30pm Tuesday 29th September 6.30 – 7.30pm Saturday 3rd October at 11.00 – 12.00pm The briefing sessions will be held at our offices in town – Ebor Court, Westgate, Leeds LS1 4ND. Here’s a link to a Google Map:  Please email Jo Carter, Grace Hosting Manager on [email protected] to book a place. *In the case of refused asylum seekers, our aim is usually to provide accommodation whilst they get help to apply for financial and/or housing support or putting in a fresh claim.

LASSN in the News

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2018-11-09T12:53:59+00:0010th September, 2015|Categories: Asylum, Destitution, Volunteering|

There's been a lot of interest in what we do over the last few days. We haven't always been able to say "yes" to requests from journalists, but we've done the best we can. Here's a feature from The Guardian on Tuesday 8th September, featuring Yoshiko and Jack, and Lois and Kirsty, talking about their experiences of Hosting.   And here's Ed Carlisle on BBC Radio Leeds talking about his experiences as a Grace host. Piece in the Guardian on "How do I offer a room in my house to a refugee..." 11th September 2015 Thanks to all our supporters and volunteers who've been willing to go on air, and the TV to talk about their experiences.  We don't have recordings/clippings for everyone, but please send them in if you find any more...

A guide to helping refugees and asylum seekers in Leeds and beyond

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2018-11-09T12:31:22+00:0010th September, 2015|Categories: Asylum, Headline posts, Resources, Volunteering|Tags: , |

There are many ways to help out, and we know volunteering with LASSN won't suit everyone. There will also be a public meeting 5.30pm - 7.30pm, Tuesday 15th September at the West Yorkshire Playhouse to get an update about what's happening in the City, meet other people who want to make a difference, and find out how you can play a part in what comes next. You don't have to sign up to anything on the night. Come along for all of it, a bit of it. It'll be nice to see you.

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