Our year in numbers
185 clients supported throughout the year
1,730 Support Service sessions
15 people helped out of destitution
17 people helped to resolve homelessness issues
46 clients were completely out of the asylum system, surviving on charity
2 clients went on to secure scholarships to university
Report from the Chief Executive
We are excited to be presenting our work to you in this report and feel proud that all the information, case studies, quotes and figures within are describing real changes to real lives at the sharp end of destitution through the work carried out with our clients. I want to share this positivity as a representation of the positive feelings and sentiments that we at Islington Centre for Refugees and Migrants receive on a daily basis. It is hard dealing with and listening to some of the tragic stories, the lost pasts and unfair, unredressed inequalities against which we feel helpless but it is in the direct engagement with our clients that we listen and respond to need and demand and provide the essential services and activities that are required to enable our clients to feel welcomed and supported throughout their time at the Centre and beyond.
It is in every activity or service offering that we engender that positive engagement and work with the individual to break down complex, compound problems into manageable objectives that can breathe some relief into day to day life, reignite the fight for survival and create a desire to develop a warm feeling of being part of something in a society where many feel lost and isolated.
The last year has been no different to others in the demands it has laid upon us to adapt, develop and grow in a way that is shaped by all who attend.
It is this message of constant adaptation that we share with all those who support us whether it be through funding, partnership, individual support, volunteering or just sheer hard work.
We work as a small close team often in very demanding situations with very difficult decisions to make. Through understanding our clients and careful consideration we are able to respond in ways that enable our clients to access services and participate in activities they have not had the opportunity to do before. Through managing pilot sessions and trying new things we are able to test ideas of new activities and services and meet the needs and requests of the clients.
Our humble beginnings saw us delivering English language classes to asylum seekers and refugees and over the years that has grown to a full array of opportunities and we have gained a wonderful alumni of those who have gone on to succeed in their lives with the firm and secure base of the Centre behind them. We heard recently at our AGM from clients who, amongst other things: went on to create their own business; have completed their Masters; have won an award for artistic interpretation, have started work as a mechanic, have become a trustee of a charity, and are volunteering feeding homeless and vulnerable people.
Through their own words clients have expressed many times that without the Centre these achievements would not have been possible. This is what drives the Centre forward and keeps us all on track to provide what is most needed by our clients to help rebuild their lives and become a part of all of us.
We hope that this report conveys further insight into the work we do – its successes and challenges over the year – and into who has accessed our services, those without whom we would not exist: our clients.
Andy Ruiz Palma, Chief Executive
Who are our Clients?
Over the previous year our clients originated from 44 different countries
Everyone who comes to us has left their home country because they are fleeing persecution or warfare or because they are seeking to make a better life for themselves. From most countries, we have only one client. Here is a breakdown of ten countries from which more than one of our clients originated:
Democratic Republic of Congo 36
People came from boroughs across London
Clients come to us from across Greater London and outside London. The top 5 boroughs which our clients are staying in are:
- Islington 19 %
- Haringey 10%
- Hackney 10%
- Enfield 6%
- Camden 6%
We welcome all asylum seekers, refugees and migrants regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, sexuality, religion or any other factors. Often, we are the only point of contact destitute asylum seekers have with services. In other cases, we act as a first port of call offering kindness, a friendly face and help to find the right services.
“A woman arrived at 3pm one afternoon. She was pregnant and had been sent to us by the Whittington Hospital. She was sleeping on someone’s sofa, it wasn’t a good situation. We gave her some food, talked to her and helped her contact the Red Cross.”
We are often asked about the different types of displaced status of our clients and their rights in the UK
An asylum seeker is someone who has left their country because of persecution, human rights abuses and war. They cannot return because they fear for their life and have asked the UK government for the right to stay in this country. While they make this application, they receive £34 a week and are mainly unable to work. At the end of the year 35 of our clients were asylum seekers.
A destitute asylum seeker is someone who is trying to appeal the government’s refusal of their application for asylum, having reached the end of the asylum system. While they try to make this appeal, they have no access to financial support or housing and are unable to work. At the end of the year 65 of our clients were destitute asylum seekers.
A refugee is someone who has been given the right to stay in the UK for five years as the government has believed and accepted their claim for asylum. Although refugees have the right to stay, they still need help to rebuild their lives in an unfamiliar country. At the end of the year 62 of our clients were refugees.
A migrant is someone who has come to this country to make a better life for themselves. Often migrants send money back to support family in their own country. There are restrictions on what services they can access, such as healthcare. A lack of English language can make it hard for them to fit in. At the end of the year 17 of our clients were migrants.