2015 Cricket Fundraiser


Cricket Fundraiser 001

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St George’s Church cricket team van­quish Mosaic Church team to raise funds for ‘Spa­cious Places’ and PAFRAS.

Posted in News

Refugee week party !

Bingo with sham­poo as a prize! Lots of food! Thanks to Hamara and every­one else who con­trib­uted to a great time at Pafras’ refugee week party.Pafras publicity

Posted in News

Fusion plays to a packed house for PAFRAS!


Fri­day even­ing at the New Headingley Club .… much set­ting up of equip­ment and sound check­ing. The audi­ence drift in, drinks are fetched from the bar, seats are found… let the music begin! A musical jour­ney around the Medi­ter­ranean, North and cent­ral Africa, Ancient Per­sia and more. Flutes, drums, double bass, bag­pipes, cla­ri­net, sax, gui­tar, man­dolin, Ara­bian lute and voices. A solo inter­mis­sion of Iraqi folk songs from Jaf­far Yaseen! Just won­der­ful music, requir­ing two encores, one for the Zim­b­ab­wean folk in the audience…Headingley – home from home.
Many thanks to Steve and Fusion for a great even­ing in aid of PAFRAS.
We raised just under £250.00!

Posted in News

Tour de Touchstone

On the 1st of May 2015, Touchstone’s staff, volun­teers, trust­ees and ser­vice users will be rais­ing funds for our char­ity. They will cycle, bus, funny walk and super­hero from the centre of Dews­bury to Chapeltown, Leeds.

Tour de Touchstone Givey page

Please give gen­er­ously and feel free to get involved! All welcome.

Posted in Events, Fundraising, News

The Human Cost of War — Christine Majid

Refugee Girl

Zaatari Refugee Camp Jordan:  One of a mil­lion Syr­ian Chil­dren who have become refugees.(1) (UNCHR Report 2014)

UNCHR’s annual Global Trends report, which is based on data com­piled by gov­ern­ments and non-government part­ner organ­iz­a­tions and the organ­iz­a­tions own records, show 51.2 mil­lion people were for­cibly dis­placed at the end of 2013, 6 mil­lion more than the 45.2 mil­lion repor­ted in 2012more.(1)

Why has there been such a massive increase?  On –going wars, (espe­cially in Syria) ter­ror­ism,  major dis­place­ment in the Cent­ral African Repub­lic and South Sudan, over­all the largest refugee pop­u­la­tions under UNHCR care are from Afgh­anistan, Syria and Somalia, account­ing   for more than half of the global refugee total.(2)  By regions Asia and the Pacific have the largest refugee pop­u­la­tion over­all at 3.5 mil­lion. Sub-Saharan Africa had 2.9 mil­lion people while the Middle East and North Africa had 2.6 mil­lion ( UNHCR –2013) and Pakistan, Iran  and Lebanon, hos­ted more refugees than any other coun­tries in the world.

As more and more poten­tial   migrants   are emer­ging ( mostly from the third world), they  are under com­pul­sion to move, as eco­nomic, socio– polit­ical and envir­on­mental col­lapse threatens basic secur­ity in many regions, but where do they go?  As Europe closes its bor­ders and has become a gated con­tin­ent, we see the human tra­gedies  of  Lampedusa.   In Feb­ru­ary of this year 300 migrants were feared   to have drowned in the  Mediterranean(3), due to Europe’s decision to downs­ize mari­time res­cue oper­a­tions last Autumn. This raises huge con­cerns regard­ing  the EU’s  moral and polit­ical val­ues. (Guard­ian Feb­ru­ary 2015)

Does it not appear ironic that the very same states which were the authors who wrote the key prin­ciples of the Geneva Con­ven­tion in 1951 are now attempt­ing to re-write it?

Com­pul­sion, Exclu­sion and the Denial of Dignity

As the EU was intent on insti­tu­tion­al­iz­ing policies that under­mined Art­icle 31 of the Geneva Con­ven­tion by crim­in­al­iz­ing illegal entry; it was only a mat­ter of time before the UK was to fol­low the rest of Europe.  Boateng (1989) (4)comments on the bound­ar­ies of Europe being con­stantly for­ti­fied, and the con­cern with ‘legit­im­iz­ing meas­ures’ to keep out the alien flood.

This was clearly illus­trated by Mar­garet Thatcher in 1989 who stated that:

“We joined Europe to have free move­ments of goods …..I did not join Europe to have free move­ment of ter­ror­ists, crim­in­als, drugs, plant and animal dis­eases and illegal immig­rants ‘. (1989).

There appears to be, amongst politi­cians, a fas­cin­a­tion with the num­bers and stat­ist­ics of asylum flows, with dis­placed people being described as masses, hordes, influx, and swarms which ulti­mately dehu­man­izes asylum seekers.

It appears that global migra­tions at a time of aus­ter­ity in Europe have not only been per­ceived as a threat to eco­nomic secur­ity, but also to national iden­tity. Increas­ingly in the Brit­ish and European Press the vis­ion of being swamped with huge num­bers of immig­rants has been con­struc­ted both in exclu­sion­ary and dis­crim­in­at­ory terms. This, in turn, has sown the seeds of a new nation­al­ism and racism  fuelled by  New Right Ideo­lo­gies, as well as giv­ing a plat­form to the extreme right.

Both the UK and other European Government’s  are using the wel­fare state as a lever to force asylum seekers to give up their fight  for asylum and leave the coun­try “ vol­un­tar­ily” ‘. ( Fekete. L 2009)5 . One must ask the ques­tion how vol­un­tary is a return if a des­ti­tute asylum seeker is starved out of the country?

The New Labour Gov­ern­ment of 1997 put in place internal mech­an­isms, which reflec­ted the EU view of asylum seekers, (as a crim­in­als in need of con­stant sur­veil­lance). The 1998 White paper ‘Fairer, Faster and Firmer’,(6)  made  it crys­tal clear that deter­ring ‘abus­ive’ asylum seekers from  enter­ing the coun­try was a primary aim.

Under the pre­vi­ous Con­ser­vat­ive Gov­ern­ment the costs of asylum seekers wel­fare was  borne by local author­it­ies. Prior to the 1996 Immig­ra­tion and Asylum Act , asylum seekers were entitled to the same wel­fare bene­fits as UK cit­izens, but at 90% of the nor­mal rate.They could also claim hous­ing bene­fit to cover rent. How­ever, the 1996 Act removed all rights to hous­ing and fin­an­cial sup­port from asylum seekers who failed to claim asylum at a UK port of entry, or who received a neg­at­ive decision on their asylum claim. This meant that the local author­it­ies, under the National Assist­ance Act 1945, and the Children’s Act 1989, were com­pelled to provide accom­mod­a­tion and food for those left destitute.

Under the new gov­ern­ment of 1997, the right to claim asylum became highly politi­cised and the rights of asylum seekers began to be eroded, the dawn of the deterrence regime .In the 1999 Immig­ra­tion and Asylum Act respons­ib­il­ity for the hous­ing and wel­fare of des­ti­tute asylum seekers was passed from the Depart­ment of Social Secur­ity to the Home Office. It appeared that now immig­ra­tion was a mat­ter of num­bers  and not an issue of social wel­fare  and hous­ing. A new admin­is­trat­ive  body was set up called  the National Asylum and Sup­port Ser­vice (NASS), and was estab­lished in the  Home Office ‘s  Immig­ra­tion and Nation­al­ity Depart­ment to over­see the new controls.

Among vari­ous pieces of legis­la­tion incor­por­ated into Brit­ish asylum policy was the removal of the right to work in 2002, this was fol­lowed by, Sec­tion 55 of the Nation­al­ity and Immig­ra­tion and Asylum Act 2002, which ruled that any­one who did not claim asylum imme­di­ately upon arriv­ing in the coun­try could be denied any access to sup­port. This was chal­lenged in 2003 by the High Court on the basis that it left people with a choice of ‘per­se­cu­tion or destitution’.

In 2004 Dra­matic cuts in legal aid fund­ing cre­ated a frame­work in which asylum seekers are fre­quently inad­equately rep­res­en­ted.  A new con­tract spe­cific­a­tion, devolved powers to self –author­ise legal aid were cur­tailed, and fund­ing for attend­ance and rep­res­ent­a­tion at Home Office inter­views  was with­drawn. This was fol­lowed in 2005 by a single tier appeals pro­cess which altered the way legal aid was imple­men­ted for asylum cases. Ret­ro­spect­ive fund­ing ensured that Law­yers had to assess the like­li­hood that that an appeal would suc­ceed [the “mer­its” test], if not, asylum seekers had to rep­res­ent them­selves. This left more and more asylum seekers, without legal rep­res­ent­a­tion for their asylum cases, end­ing up des­ti­tute, with no recourse to pub­lic funds, deprived of all civil and social rights, and stripped of human dig­nity. It could be argued that the only par­al­lel lies within the pre – wel­fare state and the admin­is­tra­tion of poor relief, spe­cific­ally the Poor Law of 1834, when the dreaded ‘work­house’ was insti­tuted, for­cing the poor, to take the “work­house test” for indoor relief. A regime so unpleas­ant as to deter the poor seek­ing shel­ter and pro­tec­tion in the first place.

As (Fekete, Liz, .2009), points out,  Bri­tain like the rest of Europe is detain­ing people in deten­tion centres. It makes one won­der how demo­cratic are the European states? How can they jus­tify impris­on­ing indi­vidu­als? Why have most EU states cre­ated a sep­ar­ate prison regime for asylum seekers detained at the point of arrival? How can Demo­cratic European States jus­tify incar­cer­at­ing people when they have never appeared before a court for a crim­inal offence?  What appears to have happened, in European States, is the imple­ment­a­tion of a regime of con­trol and sur­veil­lance where asylum is linked to secur­ity. Many asylum seekers  in deten­tion have their claims fast tracked  and are depor­ted without even set­ting foot out­side the deten­tion centre.(7).

As,(Carr, M.2012) states “  The harsh ‘post-entry’ asylum meas­ures such as deten­tion and des­ti­tu­tion adop­ted by vari­ous Gov­ern­ments  over the last two dec­ades have made life much harder for asylum seekers”.(8)

Fekete. L. (2009) draws atten­tion to the racist prac­tises in the West­ern world towards those seek­ing asylum, draw­ing par­al­lels  to the anti – black racism of apartheid, with debate con­cern­ing num­bers remin­is­cent of the 1970’s . “The vic­tim­isa­tion and inter­ment of asylum seekers  mir­rors the treat­ment of the Jews  dur­ing the Second World War”. (9)

If the tra­gedies of the twen­ti­eth cen­tury are not to be repeated, a very dif­fer­ent approach is needed, one which crit­ic­ally looks at global change, dis­place­ment, flight, and the search for safety and sanctuary.

Christine Majid

March 2015



 (1)   UNHCR, Global Report 2013

(2)   UNHCR, Global Report (2013).

(3)  Guard­ian, 11th Feb­ru­ary. 2015 Patrick Kins­ley “Hun­dreds of Migrants Feared Dead in Medi­ter­ranean this week”

(4) Boateng, P. (1989),” Pre­face to Joint Coun­cil for the Wel­fare of Immig­rants (JCWI).  Unequal Migrants: “The European   Community’s Unequal Treat­ment of Migrants and Refugees”. Hutchin­son Uni­ver­sity Lib­rary, London.

(5)  Fekete, L. (2009) ‘A Suit­able Enemy’ pub. Pluto Press (2009)

(6)  Home Office (1998) Fairer, Faster and Firmer A Mod­ern Approach to Immig­ra­tion and Asylum Policy, CM 4018, Lon­don: Home Office, Para.13.3.

(7)  Fekete, L. (2009) ‘A Suit­able Enemy’ pub. Pluto Press (2009)

(8) Carr, M. ( 2012). “Fort­ress Europe”,pub Hurst and Co Ltd


Posted in Asylum Policy, News

The Foresters prepared 125 packs of toiletries, scarves, socks and gloves for destitute PAFRAS service users

Foresters donate to PAFRASOn Novem­ber 2nd  at Stock­eld Park near Weth­erby, 100 For­est­ers mem­bers came to pack 125 ruck­sacks with items for PAFRAS. Packs were cre­ated for men, women and chil­dren who are des­ti­tute asylum seekers and refuges facing poverty.  A For­ester grant provided the funds to pur­chase essen­tial toi­letries , scarves, gloves, socks and snacks.

Anna Wal­lace is the Co-ordinator for the For­est­ers mem­bers in the York­shire region who con­tac­ted  Christine Majid (Man­ager of PAFRAS) to ask if the organ­isa­tion would link up with the For­est­ers to receive the packs. The For­est­ers are com­mit­ted to provid­ing volun­teer oppor­tun­it­ies for their mem­bers in their local com­munit­ies and to help­ing people in need.

The approach­ing winter sea­son provided an ideal oppor­tun­ity for For­est­ers to make the packs up for asylum seekers and refugees who have very few per­sonal pos­ses­sions.   We want them to know we care about them and that we are pleased to help.

I was thrilled to see so many of our mem­bers giv­ing up their time to help and I know they have taken an interest in the char­ity and the work it does. It demon­strates that For­est­ers mem­bers do share a com­mon pur­pose and that we are indeed com­munity spirited.

I am grate­ful to Christine who helped me co-ordinate the activ­ity and for dis­trib­ut­ing the packs to those in need.

Anna Wal­lace (on behalf of the Foresters)

Posted in Uncategorized

New English Classes Resource

The Local Author­ity have recently launched a new online lan­guage resource for migrants in Leeds. The webpage — Learn­ing Eng­lish in Leeds — provides a com­pre­hens­ive and up-to-date ref­er­ence for all of the Eng­lish lan­guage learn­ing oppor­tun­it­ies in the city and is a great resources for organ­isa­tions like us fre­quently have cli­ents who wish to learn the language.

Learning English in Leeds

Posted in News

Amnesty Leeds PAFRAS Quiz

Amnesty PAFRAS Pub Quiz!

Posted in Events, News, Uncategorized

Football Beyond Borders

Football: Beyond Border Poster

Posted in Uncategorized

New Fundraising Page

In an attempt to save money related to host­ing a fun­drais­ing page, PAFRAS has offi­cially signed up as a char­ity on Givey where more than 100% of dona­tions will be retained. We are no longer a mem­ber of Just Giv­ing and our page on this site has been taken down. Read more ›

Posted in Donating, Fundraising, News, Uncategorized