Positive Action for Refugees and Asylum Seekers (PAFRAS) was founded in 2003 as a locally-based humanitarian response to the Home Office’s policy of dispersing asylum applicants throughout the UK, to areas with little or no experience of dealing with and supporting refugees. Originally called Positive Action for Refugees; the project has grown significantly over the years in response to the growing needs of refugees and asylum seekers in Leeds and the surrounding area. Over this period our work has become more and more focused on caring for the large numbers of refused asylum seekers in and around Leeds who are made destitute as a result of government policy.
In 2005, as a response to this emerging crisis, PAFRAS opened a twice-weekly drop-in at which, with the help of our many supporters and donors, we provide food parcels, hot meals, clothes, and toiletries. Since opening, we have seen the numbers of destitute asylum seekers attending the drop-in dramatically increase. We currently receive nearly 600 visits each month.
During 2009 PAFRAS received 6,466 visits from destitute asylum seekers at its drop-in centres, and provided 1,817 one-to-one support sessions with specialised staff. In the same period we also provided 5,557 hot meals, 3,849 food parcels, 566 toiletries packs, thousands of items of clothing and many, many blankets.
2010 saw a marked increase in take up of our services, demonstrating both an increased awareness of PAFRAS amongst (potential) service users and perhaps increasing numbers of destitute asylum seekers in the city. This trend is on-going so far in 2011.
In recognition of the fact that this urgent humanitarian aid can only be of limited help in the long term we simultaneously provide experienced case and mental health workers to offer one-to-one support, information and assistance to those who attend while also working to promote social justice through research based interventions and analysis.