History

Pos­it­ive Action for Refugees and Asylum Seekers (PAFRAS) was foun­ded in Feb­ru­ary 2003, ori­gin­ally under the name Pos­it­ive Action for Refugees. Ini­tially set-up as a response to the Labour government’s policy for dis­pers­ing new asylum applic­ants out of Lon­don, we were one of a wave of organ­isa­tions estab­lished in Leeds and across the UK to provide wel­come, sup­port and assist­ance to refugees who found them­selves liv­ing in areas without the sup­port of estab­lished com­munit­ies.

From 2005 the focus of our work shif­ted sig­ni­fic­antly as gov­ern­ment policy began to mean that more and more asylum applic­ants found them­selves home­less on the streets of Leeds. We also adop­ted a new name, Pos­it­ive Action for Refugees and Asylum Seekers, and began oper­at­ing a twice-weekly drop-in ser­vice provid­ing food par­cels, toi­letry packs and hot meals along with case­work sup­port aimed at help­ing ser­vice users out of des­ti­tu­tion. While the emphas­is of the ser­vice shif­ted toward sup­port­ing those forced into des­ti­tu­tion, PAFRAS has always main­tained an open door policy to oth­ers and inclu­sion remains one of our core prin­ciples.

Birthday Cake

In 2014 we received over six thou­sand vis­its to our drop-in at St Aidan’s Com­munity Hall in Hare­hills. Many of these were repeat vis­its by des­ti­tute ser­vice users who depend on PAFRAS for their sur­viv­al, but 487 were first-time vis­its by new ser­vice users.

Our volun­teer kit­chen staff pre­pare and serve around six thou­sand meals each year from the enorm­ously gen­er­ous dona­tions that we receive from Costco and also from our many, many sup­port­ers around York­shire. (If you are inter­ested in tak­ing a more detailed look at the fig­ures behind the ser­vices that we provide, please down­load the attached PDF file).

In recog­ni­tion of the fact that this urgent human­it­ari­an aid can only be of lim­ited help in the long term we also provide exper­i­enced case and men­tal health work­ers to offer one-to-one sup­port, inform­a­tion and assist­ance to those who attend.

Fol­low­ing a peri­od of expan­sion between 2005 and 2011 the severe fund­ing cli­mate of the past few years has seen PAFRAS forced to reduce staff num­bers and, in Octo­ber 2013, close one of our drop-ins. From mid-Octo­ber 2013 we offer a single weekly drop-in every Thursday.

We reg­u­larly receive around 127 vis­it­ors, from up 50 or more dif­fer­ent coun­tries at our drop-ins. There remains a huge demand for our ser­vices and in the long-term rebuild­ing the ser­vice and open­ing an addi­tion­al drop-in remains a key aim.

PAFRAS provides vital ser­vices in con­strained cir­cum­stances with lim­ited fund­ing. You can help our ser­vice users by volun­teer­ing with us or by mak­ing a dona­tion.