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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.

Grace Hosting in the News

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2018-11-09T14:49:21+00:007th March, 2018|Categories: Destitution, Grace Hosting|

In recent months, Grace Hosting has struggled to find sufficient Hosts to accommodate destitute asylum seekers. Although we provide about 30 nights of emergency accommodation each week, we struggle to find places for about 3 nights each week.   With this in mind, we thought we'd try and recruit some new Hosts by issuing a Press Release about our work, and letting people know how they might help.     Since then, we've made quite a splash. It started out with local MP Alex Sobel citing a story from our last Friends of LASSN on the floor of the House of Commons (he starts speaking at 16:07) and telling the world that he and his family used to be Grace Hosts (click on the photo to see him in action). This was quickly picked up by both the Wharfedale Observer and the Yorkshire Evening Post Later that week we had a lovely piece on ITV Calendar thanks to reporter Rachel Townsend, who is actually a Grace Host volunteer herself! This featured our volunteer host Theresa, and Joti who has been staying with her, and who were happy to be filmed. It gave a lovely insight in to what hosting is all about. The next week we found out we'd made it into North Leeds Life...  And finally Theresa (again) and Clare appeared on BBC Radio Leeds last Sunday with Richard Stead talking about their experience as Hosts, friendships and Afghan Sunday Lunches.   You can listen to their fantastic interview by clicking here and listening from about 2 hours and 7 minutes (after Rod Stewart). Thank you to the volunteers who agreed to be involved, the journalists who covered the story, and everyone working behind the scenes to make this happen ( and in particular Dee Marshall, one of our Trustees).  All this publicity has lead to a few people coming forward who are thinking about volunteering as a host with LASSN - although we still need more. . If you know anyone who may be interested – perhaps people you work with, groups you attend, family or friends please do give them Jo's email [email protected] and we can have a chat. We also have some postcards about volunteering with LASSN which we can send to you if you would like them to give out at places of work, events etc.  Your help in recruiting more host volunteers is much appreciated. And finally, thanks for letting us show off a bit. It's unusual for us to have gotten this amount of coverage, but we thought you'd like to know...

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.

Benefit Gig Raises £1,100 for Leeds Hardship Fund

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2018-11-09T11:18:10+00:0023rd May, 2016|Categories: Destitution|Tags: , |

A group of local musicians have raised more than £1,100 to support destitute asylum seekers living in Leeds. Harmony Choir, Garforth Jazz Rock Band, Free Range and Ubunye performed a benefit gig on Saturday 21st May 2016 at the Jubilee Social Club LS6 attracting more than 150 people. The Audience were encouraged to “pay as you feel” – with all funds raised going to the Leeds Hardship Fund. “People’s generosity is amazing” said Ali Mahgoub, of the Leeds Refugee Forum, “and the hardship Fund is needed more than ever. Over the last 5 months we’ve made more than 200 grants to asylum seekers who have no income at all, and who cannot get help from the Home Office or Social Services, or mainstream food-banks. A payment of £25 a week to someone with nothing is literally the difference between eating and going hungry”. “We’re proud to be associated with Harmony Choir. They bring together singers from all across the world to perform, celebrate culture, break down barriers and show solidarity. There are no borders to musical expression, and no barriers to people joining in. If you want to come to meet new people and to have a good time, Harmony is fantastic.” Jon Beech, Director of Leeds Asylum Seekers Support Network and Chair of Leeds Migration Partnership is particularly worried about next winter. “Last year, our volunteer hosts provided 2,876 nights of accommodation to 100 destitute asylum seekers in Leeds. The New Immigration Bill will make even more individual asylum seekers and their families homeless. The Council want to help as much as they can, but even they are powerless to stop the Government from implementing this cruel and dangerous legislation. It’s increasingly up to the ordinary people of Leeds to provide a safety net to frightened people a long way from home.” If you would like to make a donation to the Leeds Hardship Fund please go to and click on “I want to donate.” Harmony Choir meet every Thursday 6 – 7.30pm at the Angler’s Club, Stoney Rock Lane LS9 If you would like to find out more about volunteering as a Host with Leeds Asylum Seekers’ Support Network, please visit In 2015/16, the hardship fund made 218 payments totalling £5,600.

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

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...

How you can help

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2018-11-09T13:43:24+00:0020th August, 2015|Categories: Asylum, Befriending, Destitution, Headline posts, Volunteering|Tags: |

There are many ways to help LASSN to deliver our aims of supporting, empowering and integrating asylum seekers and refugees in Leeds. You can volunteer to help someone learn English, emergency accommodation, make friends and to make stronger connections with their local area. These aren't the only volunteering opportunities at LASSN, but they are the main things we focus on. If you'd like to help us out, complete our online application form, tell us what you're good at, or what you have to offer, and we'll try and find a way of putting your talents to good use. If you can't offer time, you might donate some money, or organise a fundraiser for us. If none of these are possible, then there's still loads you can do to lend support to our cause. Read our website, and find out more about the reality of seeking refuge in Leeds. Follow us on Twitter or Facebook, and help us get our messages to a wider audience. Use the information you find to challenge some of the myths about migration. Be kind to strangers, and give people the time of day. We think all of this helps to make Leeds a kinder, safer, more welcoming place - and we're grateful for your offer of support. Thanks.  

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