Welcome to the Islington Centre for Refugees and Migrants’ Autumn 2017 newsletter!
We’re at the start of a new year here at the Centre, and we’re all very excited to begin working to help those who visit the Centre to integrate into our community, overcoming the many severe and complicated problems they face.
In this newsletter, we want to talk about the role of respect in our community, and how it informs our work.
The majority of our clients live in severe poverty; of our asylum-seeking clients 90% are unable to access any financial support at all, and barred from working. They are homeless, reliant on kindness in order to find a place to sleep for the night. Even for those who are able to access some financial support, the amount they receive is often extremely low – around £36 per week. Having left their families, friends, and countries of origin due to persecution and war, they are extremely isolated. Not speaking English, they are unable to help themselves, losing their independence and finding themselves increasingly isolated. Unsurprisingly, this leads to deterioration in emotional and psychological wellbeing, sometimes the start of a vicious circle for this group as they struggle to find the right kind of support.
We put respect for our community at the heart of our work at the Islington Centre: for our clients, regaining their self-respect, and earning the respect of the community, is crucial to their wellbeing and an important first step in meaningful integration. We do this in a huge number of ways:
- through supporting clients to learn English, ensuring that they are able to communicate and become independent;
- through enabling clients to make their voices heard through arts and writing;
- through supporting clients to resolve their practical issues and move towards formal education and employment;
- through ensuring that we celebrate our clients’ work and successes;
- through supporting clients to explore their city and meet people outside the community;
- and through sustaining and sharing a safe and welcoming community where friendships and mutual support can develop.
Most of our clients face a very long road ahead to fully rebuilding their lives; the range and severity of the problems they face; their fragile emotional and psychological wellbeing; the complexity and hostility of the asylum system; and many other issues mean that for some, it could take years before they are able to live in peace and security. Our practical work, together with our focus on respect, is crucial to supporting them through this period, and is the vital context for their progression.
Understanding the value of our work
We spent a lot of last year working to understand how our work supports our clients to overcome their problems, move on from their traumatic experiences, and rebuild their lives in safety and security. This work is extremely important, as it enables us to make sure that all of our services meet our clients needs – in the context of rapid social change, this is crucial to their wellbeing.
We completed our first annual evaluation exercise early this summer, and were delighted by the results. Of the clients surveyed, we found that:
- 73% of clients stated that they feel emotionally stronger after a year with us
- 70% feel they are making progress with their lives
- 61% feel that they have achieved some of their goals,
- and 65% feel happier.
We were also delighted that a full 100% of our clients felt that their English had improved over the course of their time with us.
Our research showed that, while at the Centre, clients see significant reductions in feelings of stress, isolation, and depression, and big increases in confidence, feeling connected to the community, and feeling that their skills and knowledge are respected
Regular support – a lifeline for the Centre
Through your support, we are able to offer more, and better, services to vulnerable asylum seekers and refugees in London. However, we still have a long way to go; we have to work hard every day to raise enough money to cover our costs. Our ultimate aim – to provide services that meet the real needs of our clients every day of the week – is still a way off.
Regular donations – monthly, quarterly, annual – of whatever size, are crucial to the Centre. They enable us to know that we will be able to provide our core services across the year – and to plan for the development of new services to meet our clients complex, changing needs. If you are able, and would like to support us in this way, we would be so grateful.
We have recently developed a new, easy way for supporters to donate online to us here. This platform helps us to collect GiftAid with minimal fuss, increasing the value of each donation. Alternatively, contact Katie Commons to discuss ways to support our work.
The generosity and support of our wonderful community is vital to support our vulnerable and isolated clients. Without your support, we would not be able to provide the holistic services that are crucial to developing our clients’ wellbeing and enabling them to take important steps towards meaningful integration.
Save the date!
We are always delighted to celebrate our work with all of the members of our community – clients, volunteers and supporters. We have some exciting events coming up soon:
Saturday 11th November: Angela Neustatter, together with our patron, Juliet Stevenson, will be hosting an evening of arts, including music, dance, and readings, at New Unity, Upper Street, in aid of the Islington Centre and New Unity’s legal advice project. We will keep you updated on how to buy tickets for this exciting event.
Wednesday 13th December: Amnesty International will be supporting the Centre by hosting an evening of Christmas music and readings, with carols and traditional songs from the Centre Choir, accompanied by the World Harmony Orchestra; readings from our clients’ creative writing work; and wine and mince pies to get you in the holiday spirit, and share the joy of the season with the whole Centre community. Tickets available soon.
Thank you for all your support and kindness throughout this exciting year!
All of us at the Islington Centre
Finally, we would like to share some of our clients’ work with you –
National Poetry Day (Thursday 28th September 2017)
Poem from Islington Centre for Refugees and Migrants
‘Seasons of mists…’
Autumn is so beautiful. In September the Black Sea is warm,
the air is fresh, forests smell green, rivers flow clean
Understand that autumn leaves bring colour, warmth and brightness,
memories too; red, mustard memories, rusty boats floating down
endless grey roads. Leaves leaving, starting a new journey, a new
Time changes everything, earth turns leaves,
twisting, shifting, drifting, forcing, floating, landing in a new
Understand that painting in colour and words is a way of expressing,
sometimes the only way to express
Meaning in life, mood changes caught in poems and paint, as hard to catch
as falling leaves in a storm, we reach to capture the eternal
flight float and fall…fall, float, flight
Now we take in these light, bright colours, these leaves
This misty moment in the midst of time