When refugees and people seeking asylum first come to JRS they are often withdrawn, anxious and struggling with various health challenges. Trapped in a web of restrictive policies, known as the hostile or compliant environment, those struggling to gain refugee status in the UK are deprived of the right to work and precluded from accessing any benefits. This leaves those we accompany with no means to afford to pay for their basic needs. The gruelling impact of forced destitution leaves many feeling “shunned from society, ostracised, and not allowed to take part in community activities“, as one of our refugee friends described.
For those seeking asylum, train and bus fares in particular are prohibitively expensive, and this has a knock on effect as it becomes increasingly difficult to make vital medical and legal appointments and to further one’s asylum case. Our weekly Day Centre offers hospitality to around 240 refugees each month in a warm, friendly and supportive environment. Alongside a freshly cooked hot meal, toiletry packs and hot drinks each week, our refugee friends receive a £10 travel grant. £10 may feel like a small amount of money but Susan, one of our refugee friends, explains “that £10, to me it felt like £1000!”. Not only do these travel grants allow our refugee friends to get from A to B but it enables them to access justice, to visit friends, and to participate in community.
With your help this advent, we can continue to support our refugee friends with travel grants, and enable them to build community.
Han, another of our refugee friends, has been coming to JRS for about a year. “The Home Office has identified me as a person with no purpose in life,” Han explains, “I have been denied housing, healthcare, legal aid and I don’t have any money to support myself, so this is very good help for me.”
A committed Catholic, Han loves to participate and sing in the JRS Gospel Choir, one of the weekly activities run alongside the Day Centre to help counter the crushing sense of isolation that many of our refugee friends experience. Han explains that singing in the choir “rejuvenates the mind, the soul. It encourages me to face challenges in life.” Without the travel money provided by JRS UK, Han would be unable to attend the choir as the tube travel is prohibitively expensive.
Can you help us to continue to support Han this year?
Raymond has been supported by JRS for about five years, as he has battled to be recognised as a refugee, and so receive the international protection he is entitled to. Raymond describes the Day Centre as offering “an opportunity for refugees to meet, to share our stories, share the situations that we face.” It is a hugely important support to him, but getting to the Day Centre is only made possible by the travel grant JRS provides.
We are only able to accompany, serve and advocate on behalf of destitute and detained refugees thanks to the generous and faithful support of our donors, volunteers, and parishes. Without such help, our work wouldn’t be possible.
With your help this Advent we can continue to show refugees and people seeing asylum that they are welcome, cared for and valued, in a world that seems increasingly hostile and isolating. Your donation will enable JRS UK to continue to support our refugee friends with travel grants, and the access to crucial support the travel grants offer.
Help JRS UK to accompany destitute refugees and people seeking asylum, like Han, Raymond and Susan, in a spirit of hospitality, welcome and love.