PAFRAS 2016 Annual Report…

Find out all that we’ve been doing for refugees and asylum seekers !

Click here

PAFRAS Office and food room move.

April 2016

Leedsunitycentrelogo

Sup­port for asylum seekers who are report­ing to Water­side Court Report­ing Centre.

We have moved and have a new web­site!:

Address: Leeds Unity Centre, Ebor Court, Skin­ner Street, Leeds LS1 4ND
Tele­phone: 0777 151 7135  Call before vis­it­ing.
Fax: 0113 298 7403
Email: leedsunitycentre@hotmail.co.uk
Web­site: http://leedsunitycentre.net/
Face­book: www.facebook.com/leedsunitycentre

Also.……

TRANSNATIONAL DAY OF SOLIDARITY WITH PEOPLE DETAINED
&
PROTEST AGAINST DETENTION CENTRES

Sat 7th May

Leeds No Bor­ders is organ­ising a coach to Mor­ton Hall deten­tion centre.
There are a num­ber of free spaces for people seek­ing asylum so please spread the word.
Would be a massive help if people can book their tick­ets asap so we can get idea of num­bers for the coach.

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/7516-leeds-coach-to-shutdownmortonhall-tickets-23120193120
https://www.facebook.com/shutdownmortonhall/

Clothing donations information

Please note Yorkshire Aid is currently only open Sunday 1200hrs to 1600hrs.

Please note York­shire Aid is cur­rently only open Sunday 1200hrs to 1600hrs.

PAFRAS in the news.


PAFRAS in the News!

Recently, Polly Toyn­bee, from The Guard­i­an news­pa­per called in at our Thursday Drop In to see for her­self the needs of des­ti­tute asylum seekers and what we can do to help them. Her art­icle formed part of the Guard­i­an and Observ­er news­pa­pers’ 2015 char­ity appeal. The art­icle fea­tures PAFRAS’s Drop In and our Red Cross part­ners with a handy link to our web­site!

Clic here to go to the full art­icle.…

PAFRAS in the news

PAFRAS in the news

A retirement message from Christine Majid — PAFRAS Founder

PAFRAS pictures Drop In Services International Food Day 2013 039
A Retire­ment mes­sage from PAFRAS Founder and Man­ager Christine Majid

Dear all,

I am writ­ing to inform you all of my forth­com­ing retire­ment from PAFRAS at the end of the cal­en­dar year.

It has been an incred­ible jour­ney over the last 13 years since I foun­ded Pos­it­ive Action for Refugees [PAR] in 2003, which grew into PAFRAS in 2005. PAR was a small grass roots not for profit pro­ject based in Hare­hills which had a small man­age­ment Com­mit­tee. It all began in a small attic room for its office which was very cold and the roof leaked.

PAR worked mostly around integ­ra­tion issues for new arrivals as well as case­work, which were mostly accom­mod­a­tion issues. We also had a teach­er from Park Lane Col­lege to teach ESOL (Eng­lish for Speak­ers of Oth­er Lan­guages) classes and Basic Skills. These were happy and mem­or­able times. My heart­felt thanks go to the man­age­ment com­mit­tee of the time and to Dave Brown for giv­ing unwaver­ing sup­port and guid­ance from 2003. Dave saw the trans­ition through to PAFRAS in 2005 and stayed as Trust­ee of PAFRAS up until August 2015. My thanks also go to the two part time case­work­ers at the time and col­leagues in the Refugee Field.

Due to lack of fund­ing PAR lost its premises. This came at a time when gov­ern­ment policy on immig­ra­tion was rap­idly chan­ging, and one could see that the rights of Asylum Seekers were slowly being eroded away. There were many pieces of legis­la­tion passed at the time and Section55 of the Nation­al­ity and Immig­ra­tion Act was one of them. This denied asylum seekers who applied late for their asylum claim any sup­port at all. Under Sec­tion 9 of the Asylum and Immig­ra­tion Act (Treat­ment of Claimants, 2004) this was exten­ded to failed asylum seek­ing fam­il­ies, who also were denied sup­port.  This came at a time when there were also huge cuts in Leg­al Aid mak­ing it impossible for asylum seekers to find a soli­cit­or to sub­mit an appeal. Con­sequently many lost their accom­mod­a­tion and sup­port, and were evicted from their accom­mod­a­tion by the police. Many asylum seekers ended up on the streets, con­fused and dis­or­i­ent­ated as to what had happened to them.

Fur­ther cuts in 2004 removed NHS treat­ment from failed asylum seekers (except in emer­gency cases), and women refused antenat­al care were forced to give birth at home. Insti­tu­tion­al­ized des­ti­tu­tion had become an integ­ral part of 21st cen­tury Bri­tain. Some­thing had to be done. It could not be right to leave people home­less and without any recourse to pub­lic funds, stripped of dig­nity and all social and civil rights, highly vul­ner­able on the streets.

In 2005 PAFRAS was born to adapt and respond to the begin­nings of a grow­ing crisis of asylum seekers all over the UK. With sup­port and help from Ray Gaston, All Hal­lows CofE, who gal­van­ized many churches of all denom­in­a­tions to help and make a stand against a bru­tal asylum sys­tem and sup­port PAFRAS. My thanks also go Holy Ros­ary and the St Vin­cent Group who have sup­por­ted PAFRAS since its incep­tion in 2005. The response in the city from the churches was grow­ing and dona­tions of money, food and cloth­ing began to come in. My gar­age was used as a stor­age ‘till I could secure enough fund­ing to find an office base.

With no office I rever­ted to my old 2CV, vol­un­tar­ily tak­ing food and blankets to those on the streets (as sub zero tem­per­at­ures plummeted), while at the same time try­ing to secure fund­ing for a des­ti­tu­tion pro­ject in Leeds. As more and more people became des­ti­tute it was clear that the need for a drop in centre and con­stant sup­plies of food, shel­ter and cloth­ing were des­per­ately needed. After six months, fund­ing was secured and PAFRAS opened its first drop in at Nassu Place, Chapeltown. My grate­ful thanks go to Mr Mor­ris. PAFRAS ren­ted anoth­er attic in Hare­hills (alas, anoth­er leak­ing roof!) and man­aged to secure a part time case­work­er post. These were extremely chal­len­ging times for des­ti­tute asylum seekers, as well as PAFRAS, and nev­er was a spe­cif­ic pro­ject for des­ti­tu­tion more needed in the city.

PAFRAS grew from strength to strength. The pop­ular­ity and need for PAFRAS was over­whelm­ing and showed the need for a pro­ject spe­cific­ally assist­ing those left des­ti­tute. From 2007 — 2009 PAFRAS expan­ded bey­ond recog­ni­tion.  As fund­ing was secured a team of sev­en staff were employed. The expan­sion was fast and I was well aware it could con­tract in the future. PAFRAS required a much lar­ger premises and sep­ar­ate food stor­age to oper­ate from. In 2007 PAFRAS moved to St Aidan’s Com­munity Hall, where PAFRAS is still based and oper­ates its weekly drop in. My grat­it­ude goes to St Aidan’s Church, Fath­er Taylor, Andy Myers, Moth­er Diana, Tony Jowett to the St Aidan’s PCC and last but not least, my thanks to Andrew Ifill, Hall Man­ager, who has taken on the her­culean task of run­ning the kit­chen with our volun­teers for nearly the last eight years.

Devel­op­ing and imple­ment­ing a more multi-agency approach at the drop in over the last four years has benefited the cli­ent group enorm­ously.
We have access to:

  • A Red Cross Case­work­er, vouch­ers and their Inter­na­tion­al Tra­cing Ser­vice.
  • York Street Prac­tice who register asylum seekers with a GP and com­plete HC2 forms to enable them to receive their med­ic­a­tion without cost.
  • Sky­line who give a valu­able ser­vice of HIV screen­ing and test­ing.
  • Migrant Helpline who assist with accom­mod­a­tion issues, asylum sup­port prob­lems.
  • More recently City of Sanc­tu­ary has joined us at the PAFRAS weekly drop in.

PAFRAS has hit many chal­len­ging and dif­fi­cult times, with fund­ing becom­ing harder to secure for work with des­ti­tute asylum seekers. Over the last five years PAFRAS has had to imple­ment many cuts in staff hours, seek­ing to make sure the cuts did not affect des­ti­tute asylum seekers them­selves, leav­ing a very small team work­ing way bey­ond their capa­city to keep open such a vitally needed pro­ject in the city of Leeds.

PAFRAS was there at the right time provid­ing the right ser­vice for des­ti­tute asylum seekers and has achieved an enorm­ous amount for the city. There have been chal­lenges through­out the life of PAFRAS, ups and downs, and for staff one of the most chal­len­ging areas to oper­ate and work in.

I con­vey my most warmest and sin­cere   appre­ci­ation, grat­it­ude and sin­cere thanks to all the past and present staff, my sin­cere appre­ci­ation, grat­it­ude and heart­felt thanks for all your sup­port, com­mit­ment, care and com­pas­sion to a hugely mar­gin­al­ized and voice­less cli­ent group.

To the present PAFRAS Team, I thank you all for your levels of ded­ic­a­tion, over­whelm­ing com­mit­ment, well bey­ond the line of duty, and for your uncon­di­tion­al sup­port, achiev­ing social justice for so many cli­ents and for secur­ing real life changes for them.

My thanks to all the volun­teers past and present who have been the back­bone of the organ­iz­a­tion over the last 12 years, provid­ing and donat­ing their time and energy with hands on help at the Pro­ject and the food store, mak­ing up lit­er­ally thou­sands of food par­cels over the years. My thanks go to Touch­stone for run­ning the volun­teers pro­gramme for the last 4 years.

I extend huge heart­felt thanks to all the donors, count­less organ­iz­a­tions and indi­vidu­als, the Churches as far out as the York­shire Dales, the Quakers and oth­er Faith Sec­tors. I thank you all for all the help and sup­port you have shown to our asylum seekers and the organ­iz­a­tion itself.  My heart­felt and sin­cere thanks to you all – without your sus­tained help and sup­port many people would be left in abject poverty. You have all played a huge part and improved the lives of hun­dreds of asylum seekers.

My sin­cere thanks and grat­it­ude go to all the fun­ders since PAFRAS was foun­ded, without your help and sup­port and belief in the pro­ject PAFRAS would not have been able to exist, func­tion and oper­ate and help so many des­ti­tute asylum seekers, my etern­al grat­it­ude to you all.

I wish to pay trib­ute at this stage to the Brit­ish Red Cross who have been our key part­ners since 2005, who have provided an excel­lent ser­vice work­ing along­side the PAFRAS team over a very long sus­tained peri­od of time. My sin­cere grat­it­ude to the Red Cross Team for all their loy­al and unswerving sup­port since 2005.

I would like to extend my sin­cere thanks to all our part­ners at the weekly drop in and to LASSN for their long stay and short stop pro­grammes, St Monica’s Hous­ing and Abi­gail Hous­ing which are a life line for those who have been left home­less.

To all my col­leagues in the Refugee and Asylum field, past and present, my sin­cere thanks for all your sup­port over the years; I will miss you all dearly. I also add my warm thanks to organ­iz­a­tions out­side of the Refugee domain for their sup­port and con­tri­bu­tion over the years in par­tic­u­lar Hama­ra and the Give a Gift Team, to all the bands and musi­cians who have per­formed for PAFRAS and raised fin­ance to sup­port those left des­ti­tute. I thank you all so much.

My thanks to all of the Trust­ees past and present for their time, energy and expert­ise in steer­ing the Pro­ject for­ward.

As you will appre­ci­ate, this is a very over­whelm­ing peri­od of time for me per­son­ally, and I am aware that I have not been able to thank every­one and every organ­iz­a­tion by name in this let­ter. Rest assured that I am deeply grate­ful to every indi­vidu­al, organ­iz­a­tion, church and the dif­fer­ent faith sec­tors that have and con­tin­ue to sup­port PAFRAS; I owe a huge debt of grat­it­ude to each and every one of you. Without all your sup­port and help we would not be able to run the PAFRAS ser­vice. Thanks to you all for the huge part you are play­ing in improv­ing the lives of those left des­ti­tute.

So, this now brings me to the end of a jour­ney, one which has brought many vary­ing exper­i­ences along the way. I have been extremely humbled and priv­ileged over the last 13 years to meet people from all over the world, who have, des­pite their hard­ships, con­duc­ted them­selves with grace, humil­ity and dig­nity. I have learnt so much from you all, for which I am deeply grate­ful and I will miss you all.

I am sure that PAFRAS will con­tin­ue to deliv­er its won­der­ful, inclus­ive, caring and com­pas­sion­ate open doors ser­vice, which its unique val­ues are foun­ded on, where status, nation­al­ity or eth­ni­city are no bar­ri­er. I sin­cerely hope PAFRAS goes on from strength to strength and I wish Ruth Dav­any (PAFRAS’s new man­ager – about whom more in our Spring news­let­ter) all the best in her new post at PAFRAS.

PAFRAS has been a huge part of my life all these years, and I wish it well for the future.

I hope after reflect­ing over the last thir­teen years to be involved in cam­paign­ing for a more trans­par­ent and fairer asylum sys­tem and at some stage to attempt writ­ing a book (but we will see).  Oth­er things for the future are return­ing to my piano and re-learn­ing gui­tar, which has been on hold for years.
A very fond farewell to you all – I will miss each and every one of you all dearly and will nev­er for­get you all. Take care and warmest wishes to you all in the future.

 

Christine Majid


Hyde Park Picture House hosts UK premiere of ‘Refugee — The Eritrean Exodus’

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Queueing in light rain is not everyone’s idea of fun, but last night [Tues 1st Dec] over one hun­dred people made the effort IMG_1584 to come and watch this chal­len­ging film and to hear Dir­ect­or Chris Cot­ter IMG_1586 tell the story of how he came to make it. From USA to Ethiopia where the refugee camps are was a big step for the small team who set out with the inten­tion of ensur­ing this peoples’ tra­gic story got told.

To get a sense of the film vis­it their web­site http://www.theeritreanexodus.com/ and watch the trail­er.

Many thanks to Dora Rebelo, PAFRAS men­tal health work­er for her efforts to make the screen­ing of the film hap­pen, to Hyde Park Pic­ture House for host­ing us and to every­one else who helped in any way!

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PAFRAS Statement

PAFRAS Trust­ees are sad to report that our man­ager of 12 years, Christine Majid, will be retir­ing at Christ­mas.

Christine foun­ded PAFRAS in 2003 and has steered it through many tur­bu­lent times includ­ing suc­cess­ive Gov­ern­ment attacks on Refugees and Asylum Seekers, con­stant cuts in fund­ing and huge pres­sures on the sec­tor as a res­ult of increas­ingly neg­at­ive policy changes.

In pay­ing trib­ute to Christine, Trust­ees would like to thank her for her many years of self­less ded­ic­a­tion to the plight of Refugees and Asylum Seekers across dec­ades and across con­tin­ents.

Christine has put the needs of oth­ers before those of her­self for more years than PAFRAS has been in exist­ence. She has cam­paigned tire­lessly against des­ti­tu­tion and has cre­ated an organ­isa­tion that is a trib­ute to her love and com­pas­sion for people. In short, Christine is a force of nature and her force has always been for good and for the good of the people who needed her.

We know that repla­cing Christine will be a very hard task but she has earned this time to her­self and we wish her the very best of luck in her well — deserved retire­ment.
PAFRAS Trust­ees Octo­ber 2015

Fusion gig at the Holbeck

Poster FUSION  Holbeck Oct 10th

 

Many thanks to Ben & Hannah [the support act ] and Fusion for some great music last Saturday. Between us we raised about £130.00. Thanks too to the Holbeck and staff for such cheerful help and welcome.

2015 Cricket Fundraiser

 

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