JRS UK have, for the past three weeks, transitioned to a remote way of supporting over 300 refugee friends. The current coronavirus measures required the weekly drop-in Day Centre doors to close, but not our services. The team at JRS are determined to continue our mission to accompany and serve our friends, particularly during these difficult times.
JRS UK have always worked to cater for the needs of refugees which are not being met elsewhere. To continue to do this, the current most effective way to stay in touch and understand their struggles is over the phone. The team have had scores of conversations with our friends, assuring them that JRS is still here and active, and still committed to providing the necessary help. JRS has also formed a new Emergency Response Team to take our Day Centre on the road, delivering parcels of essential items & financial grants to our most vulnerable refugee friends during lockdown.
As the world retreats behind close doors, we knew our friends, so many homeless or of no fixed abode, would feel isolated even more than before. Some conversations with friends have heard words of thanks for reaching out, some shared fears about becoming infected with the rapidly spreading virus and others were left feeling uncertain about where their next meal would come from.
You see, while we are privileged to live under a fixed roof, with money to purchase essential items to survive this lockdown, our friends were already without a sense of stability and certainty about many essentials needed to survive. JRS UK specifically works with destitute refugees who cannot find support elsewhere, and have no access to public funds.
With almost all refugee support services having to suspend drop-in services we quickly learned that providing mobile phone top-ups helped our friends feel connected, supported and able to contact loved ones, especially those overseas also experiencing the affects of the coronavirus. We quickly learned that those being detained in immigration removal centres were scared about how this might affect their time behind closed walls, or where medicine would come from if their health services were becoming limited. And we quickly learned that our refugee friends were troubled to think that they may not have the Day Centre and our activities to keep their creativity and hope alive during the week.
This is why our Refugee Friends’ Hardship Fund was created. The way in which we now must support our refugee friends is different, unexpected, and requires immediate action. Your generosity today, will help us deliver more food parcels to friends across London tomorrow, to top up more mobile phones in the months to come, and allow our friends to turn to JRS UK for the host of challenges they will face during the foreseeable future.
Each week, JRS UK needs to:
- Deliver essential food supplies and toiletries across London through our new Emergency Response Team
- Provide mobile phone top-ups for our friends to stay in touch with us and their loved ones
- Be accessible for over the phone emotional and practical support
- Continue legal immigration casework and provide legal advice for refugee friends over the phone and via video calls
- Support our friends through hosting virtual activities to help relieve anxiety and encourage creativity and hope.
JRS UK cannot continue these services for more than a few weeks without help from the public. Can you please donate to our Refugee Friends’ Hardship Fund today?
The gratitude we hear from our refugee friends have been encouraging. Text messages alerting friends of mobile credit top-ups and expected food deliveries are responded to with THANK YOUs and immense gratitude. Being able to stay in touch with family overseas is a lifeline to many of our lonely refugee friends, concerned for the well-being of their loved ones.
So directly from our refugee friends to you, who make these services possible, thank you for your support, and I hope you can continue to support JRS UK.