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Guidance for LASSN Volunteers during Tier 5 aka Lockdown 3, from 6th January 2021

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2021-01-06T17:38:20+00:006th January, 2021|Categories: Befriending, Connecting Opportunities, English at Home, Grace Hosting, Headline posts, Volunteering|

Although we’re all still getting used to what Tier 5 means – it’s clear that we’ll be in it for at least a couple of months, so it feels right to communicate our thinking on things (so far) with a smile and a sigh and to hopefully provide some useful resources to help you in your volunteering. We’re really grateful to everyone who continues to give their time and support to the asylum seekers, refugees and other migrants we know. Your kindness, compassion and willingness to bend and flex are massively appreciated. Thank you on behalf of everyone that LASSN supports, the staff team, Trustees and everyone else who donates their time, money and goodwill. Jon Beech, Director What are the new Tier 5 Rules?  Here are the Government’s “Stay at Home” rules What does this mean for volunteering at LASSN? The Government summarise their current restrictions as message as “Stay Home”. We want our advice to be equally clear and consistent. So we are advising everyone - volunteers and the people they support - to be extremely cautious and to act as if they have the virus, and to avoid meeting up for the duration of the Tier 5 restrictions. The Government rules say I can leave the house for volunteering – so why can’t I meet up? Yes, it’s possible to argue this – but the situation is complicated: different volunteers and clients have different clinical vulnerabilities. (People from migrant backgrounds remain over-represented in the number of people contracting and dying of COVID). The rules for meeting up – even socially distanced and outside – are also not simple. For example, you can walk together, but you can’t sit down on a bench together. The person you wish to meet may not be able to bring children/dependents with them. There are also risks associated with travelling to and from an outdoors meeting place. If you believe someone really needs contact in person, please discuss this with your Volunteers Manager and we will work out how they can get the support they need. This is so upsetting and frustrating. Yes. It is. We are trying to do everything we can to help to support people as best we can, but the new strain of COVID makes it even more difficult than it was in March 2020. We also have a duty of care towards our volunteers and staff – so we cannot and will not ask you to put you (or the people you live with) at extra risk. So – what can we do? Staying in touch by phone is really really important. Texts and messaging are really good ways of staying in touch, and are sometimes easier than awkward conversations. Over Christmas we doubled the amount of support with phone costs from £10 per month to £20 per month. (there are PAYGO SIMs with unlimited calls/data/texts for £20 per month). We will continue to provide all LASSN volunteers and clients with up to £20 a month towards [...]

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...

Grace Hosting features in the NACCOM Hosting Toolkit

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2018-11-09T13:50:07+00:0014th July, 2017|Categories: Grace Hosting, Resources|Tags: , |

We're proud that Grace Hosting features in this excellent toolkit produced by NACCOM  - The No Accommodation Network. This toolkit tells you everything you need to know about how to set up a Hosting Scheme, and to run it safely and effectively, and draws from a wide range of experiences, and different types of Hosting projects. Participants of Grace Hosting in Leeds explain in the Toolkit how hosting creates a stable environment where residents can concentrate on their asylum claims and find ‘hope and friendship’. One host explains their involvement; ‘We started hosting in March 2015 and have hosted many people, mainly from North Africa and the Middle East…. We’ve been able to connect with people through cooking and eating together and have met some really nice people as well as learnt some lovely recipes from different parts of the world… Sometimes we see people more than once, which has been nice because we’ve been able to get to know people more and have built up some good relationships. We’ve really enjoyed the experience and what we have always tried to do is offer a warm welcome. Having heard from some people who’ve stayed with us that they’ve experienced prejudice and hostility during their time in the UK, this is all the more important to us.’ Strictly speaking, you should sign up to issuu to download a copy of the toolkit, but we've posted it here to save you the trouble.


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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.

Friends of LASSN, January 2017

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2018-11-09T13:47:04+00:0010th February, 2017|Categories: Befriending, English at Home, Grace Hosting, Headline posts, Volunteering|

Here's a link to our online newsletter, Friends of LASSN which we publish every few months. Contents include Entering 2017 with a spring in our step A film about Grace Hosting Welcome to Iona Lyons, our new Befriending Volunteers Manager Tongue Twister LASSN's AGM  - Save the Date Positive images of Asylum Leeds Beckett University and Charity Bank donate PCs Donate to LASSN LASSN online

Safeguarding at LASSN

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2019-05-20T10:01:12+01:006th November, 2016|Categories: Befriending, English at Home, Grace Hosting, Projects, Training, Volunteering|Tags: |

LASSN has made some changes to the way we help everyone to remain safe and well when working with us. Volunteering is a key part of how we reduce the risks in people's lives, by increasing their connections, building confidence, and giving them choices. We're keen to support our volunteers' efforts with clear guidance and processes which support your work. Over the last year, we've reviewed our existing policies to ensure they are up to date, and in line with best practice.  We're not making these changes in response to any serious safeguarding concerns or incidents, but because we regularly review the way we work to ensure we're doing the very best we can. Here's a summary of these changes Staying Safe Project Summaries Each Volunteer Manager has produced a summary for the Project they manage, (Befriending, English at Home, Grace Hosting) saying how they will keep people safe, and put our policies into practice. Updated Safeguarding Adults and Safeguarding Children Policies Each of these Policies has been rewritten in light of legal changes, and changes to local guidance - but the basic advice remains the same: everyone should be aware of the possibility of abuse, and if you suspect something, always discuss this with someone at LASSN who will help to work out what should happen next All staff and volunteers will have these explained during their induction and training, and we'll offer ongoing training for all staff and volunteers. Revised procedures for recruiting Volunteers We'll be taking a more consistent approach to the questions we ask when interviewing prospective volunteers, and the way in which we take up references. We'll also complete Basic Disclosures for all staff and volunteers - including Grace Hosts and Coordinators -  and update these every 2 years, on a rolling programme. A detailed explanation of why we are moving from DBS checks to Basic Disclosures can be found on the Basic Disclosures Info Sheet. Basic disclosures will only show details of unspent offences. Volunteer Social Media Guidelines These have been produced in response to requests from volunteers for guidance in this area. They're intended to be simple, straightforward, and easy to follow. A Volunteer Problem Solving Procedure We've produced a clear process of how we'll try and resolve difficulties which may arise in the course of your volunteering with LASSN. We've not had one of these before, and although it's what you'd probably expect, it felt important to write this down. Staff and trustees are pleased to have adopted these policies, which will help to keep LASSN a safe place to volunteer, and provide the people we support with reassurance of our shared commitment to their welfare and security.  We'll ensure that our training for volunteers covers all relevant aspects of these policies, and we'll be happy to explain or talk things through further if things are not clear. All of the documents referred to on this page can be found in the Volunteer Information Pack.

The difference LASSN made in 2015/16

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2018-11-09T13:54:06+00:0015th June, 2016|Categories: Befriending, English at Home, Grace Hosting, Headline posts, Projects|Tags: , , |

We've updated all the pages describing the difference we make through our various projects Befriending We matched 51 volunteers with 54 asylum seekers and refugees. Most referrals for befriending come from health and children’s services, who recognise the significant impact that loneliness can have on both physical and mental health. Volunteers provide support for about 9 months, although some matches can continue for several years. Volunteers also provide practical support to the people they are matched with: helping people to access health and social care services, to make stronger connections with community organisations and to make friends. Befriending underwent a full evaluation during this period and can be downloaded here. We secured 3 years National Lottery Funding to sustain and grow the project English at Home In 2015/16 we offered tailored English lessons to 140 people from 15 different countries, who would otherwise be excluded from learning English. We increased the number of volunteer tutors to 113, who in turn provided almost 1,655 hours of teaching. Our 6 month reviews with learners found that in all cases there had been an increase in the level of confidence, with nearly all clients reporting that they now used English much more outside the home. By building people’s confidence, we have supported 11 people to successfully take up college courses and 15 to move on to weekly classes outside the home. We've published all our learning materials online so that anyone can use them, and we also keep a list of online resources that other people have produced. In addition, you can download a full Evaluation of English at Home 2013 - 16 Grace Hosting In 2015/16  84 guests spent a total of 1289 nights staying in emergency accommodation – about the same number of guests as the previous year, with people staying on average 15 nights - a week longer than people did in 2014/15. The number of people staying in longer stay accommodation halved to 6 (from 12) and Guests stayed a total of 1587 nights. The average length of stay increased slightly from 40 weeks to 45. Between September and December 2015 we recruited and trained 27 new hosting households - making a total of 49 places that people can stay. Overall, in 2015/16, Grace Hosts provided more than 2876 nights of accommodation: more than 410 weeks, or the equivalent of almost 8 years. Information and Awareness We lobby Government and submit evidence to help improve the situation of refugee and asylum seekers We appear in the local and national media, commenting on issues, and trying to make sure voices of experience are part of the discussion We give talks and host discussions of asylum and migration issues, at community groups, places of worship and in schools and colleges - here's the presentation on Migrant Families Under Pressure that we we did for social care students at Leeds Trinity in March 2016  We collaborate with Journalism and Media students, to help broaden their understanding of the issues, and challenge misconceptions - here's the [...]

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.

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