We work with people over the long term giving intensive, holistic support for at least a year, often much longer. Our approach is to show kindness and treat all people with dignity and respect. We offer English lessons, a Support Service to help people overcome practical difficulties and activities including art and writing, gym, yoga and much more.
Covid restrictions have meant that from March 2020 to September 2021 all of our activities were delivered online. From September 2021 we plan to continue and expand our online delivery, meanwhile we will reopen our physical Centre in Islington as a space where people can come together, see one another and feel a sense of community.
Through our classes and activities we get to know people as individuals, listening to them and meeting them wherever they are at. Our method is not political or institutional but individual, compassionate and human.
WE SUPPORT PEOPLE BY PROVIDING THE FOLLOWING SERVICES:
English language lessons
We have always believed that learning English is the most important first step our clients take towards living independently in the UK. Teaching English is at the heart of what we do. Our highly experienced English teachers offer free English classes throughout the week including English at two levels, conversation classes and English community/citizenship classes. We also offer classes through our partners at Speak Street. To find out more about Speak Street please visit their website: https://speak-street.com/
A Support Service
Our Support Service is here for people who are in crisis or who need practical support to get their lives on track. Our Support Service Coordinator offers clients an opportunity to talk about their practical problems and help to overcome them. The service provides referrals to partner organisations and advice on: housing, income and benefits, healthcare (both physical and psychological), education, training and negotiating the often hostile asylum system.
We have a long history of providing people in crisis with emergency grants. Our Support Package system grew out of the pandemic when we knew that our 90 asylum seeking clients would struggle to get food and essentials during the national lockdowns. Now, we offer asylum seekers who have no other income and no legal right to work with packages of vouchers and grants so that they can buy food and essentials. Alongside this system, we provide small grants to all asylum seekers, including those receiving government support, to pay the costs of travelling to our Centre or digital credit to join us online.
Activities for physical wellbeing
The people who come to us have fled war, persecution and in many cases torture and physical violation. Meanwhile, poverty, the extreme stress of an insecure immigration status and unstable accommodation put further strains on people’s health. We offer health information sessions e.g. with CLASH, donations of sanitary protection, and toiletries. We provide free yoga classes and boxing sessions and we work closely with Mary’s Community Centre in Islington to provide online exercise classes which have proved popular during the pandemic. To find out more about Mary’s please visit their website: https://www.marys.org.uk/
We take a ‘whole person’ approach to improving emotional well being. One of the ways in which we do this is by offering groups and arts activities where clients can explore their pasts and think about their futures in a safe environment. Sessions in Art and Writing are offered by our two Artists in Residence, illustrator Jane Ray and children’s author, Sita Brahmachari, with support from illustrator Ros Asquith. Meanwhile Romain Malan, Director of the World Harmony Orchestra, leads our choir.
During the pandemic, we have done something we never thought was possible. We have created an online community of refugees and asylum seekers from all over the world who come together to talk, learn, sing, create art and get the advice and help they need. This has been made possible because of the huge amount of work staff, volunteers and clients themselves have put into helping the community come online.
A warm welcome
The people who come to us often stay in hostels or are ‘sofa surfing’, not knowing where they will sleep from one week to the next. When they come to us, they find kindness and a safe space where they are heard and valued. Whether this be at our online baby group for new parents, at our sports appreciation session or one of our classes, or whether it is coming into our physical Centre for a chat and a cup of tea, people find a friendly face and a warm welcome.
Find out how to access our services here.