Like many residents we have been shocked and saddened by the plight of those forced to flee their home country due to conflict and persecution. As a city we are committed to doing what we can to welcome those seeking sanctuary and to help rebuild lives.
Newcastle has been welcoming asylum seekers for many years. While those seeking asylum have no choice over where in the UK they are dispersed to, we take great pride in the fact that so many refugees chose to settle here once their claim for asylum is determined.
Syrian Vulnerable Person Resettlement (VPR) Scheme
Newcastle is committed to supporting the Syrian Resettlement Scheme and we are proud to be one of the first local authorities that came forward to offer assistance. We will continue to work with the Government to offer what support Newcastle can to support families affected by the on going humanitarian crisis in Syria.
The Government is working with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to identify and select the people who will qualify for this scheme. The Government have so far indicated that the priority groups included will be women and children at risk, people in severe need of medical care and survivors of torture and violence amongst others.
This scheme will run separately to the main national asylum dispersal programme. Under normal asylum procedures the Home Office is responsible for managing the dispersal, accommodation and support needs of asylum seekers while a decision on the asylum claim is made. The Home Office operate a number of regional contracts to facilitate this. In the North East, Yorkshire and the Humber this contract is held by G4S, who subcontract this work in the North East to a private housing provider called Jomast. There are around 570 people, from a number of different countries, currently being supported in the city while they await a decision on their asylum claim.
People coming under the Syrian VPR scheme will have already been recognised as being in need of refugee protection and arrive in the country already having been granted refugee status. Part of the package of support being offered is 12 months of accommodation and support with orientation and integration to be facilitated by the local authority.
What can I do?
We have been overwhelmed by the kind and generous offers of support from residents in response to the on-going humanitarian crisis. Below is some guidance on how you can help.
I want to make a donation
There are many international humanitarian aid organisations working in the UK, across Europe and in the countries refugees are fleeing from. Cash donations enable these relief agencies to respond quickly and effectively to the specific needs of the affected population.
Some of the agencies responding to the refugee crisis are:
- British Red Cross Appeal
- Save the Children's Child Refugee Crisis Appeal
- UNHCR's Emergency Appeal
- The World Food Programme
I want to support a local agency
Although we are not yet seeing an increase in numbers of asylum seekers and refugees arriving in Newcastle there are still those in our city who continue to face difficult situations including low levels of support, destitution, homelessness, fear of deportation and detention.
There are a number of voluntary and community sector agencies currently working with refugees and asylum seekers across the city who would benefit from additional support and donations. Please see below for more detail:
Local agencies providing support to refugees
The following agencies provide support to refugees and people seeking asylum who are already in Newcastle. Please see their websites for more information about donating and/or volunteering opportunities.
- Action Foundation: (http://www.actionfoundation.org.uk/index.html)
Action Foundation provide housing solutions for destitute asylum seekers and homeless refugees. They also run free ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) classes.
- City of Sanctuary (https://newcastle.cityofsanctuary.org/)
Newcastle is proud to be a recognised City of Sanctuary. Newcastle:City of Sanctuary is about creating opportunities for positive relationships between local people and those seeking sanctuary. If you would like to express your support for City of Sanctuary Newcastle, either as an individual or an organisation, you can download our Resolution of Support, fill it out, and email it to email@example.com.
- Resolution of Support for Individuals
- Resolution of Support for Organisations
- The Children's Society (http://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/what-you-can-do/volunteer)
The Children's Society run the SMART project which supports refugee, asylum seeking, and migrant children and families in Newcastle. Currently the service includes a drop in, follow on appointments, one to one casework, and trips and activities in holiday periods. Please contact them if you would like to make donations of good quality clothing, bedding/ towels/ small household furnishings, crockery and kitchen equipment (no electrical appliances unfortunately), prams, smaller items of baby equipment, toys. They are limited in what they can accept due to a lack of storage space. They would also be happy to accept supermarket or high street vouchers for clients to use to buy food clothing locally.
- Comfrey Project: (http://thecomfreyproject.org.uk/)
The Comfrey Project is a registered charity that works with refugees and asylum seekers on allotment sites across Newcastle and Gateshead with the aim of improving their conditions of life and general wellbeing.
- Crossings: (http://www.crossings.org.uk/)
Crossings is a music project which has been working with asylum seekers and refugees from all over the world in the Newcastle area for the last 5 years. They have seen a sharp increase in the number of people wanting to attend their sessions in recent months, and with little or no sources of income of their own, they would appreciate any donations or assistance with their travel costs
- Freedom from Torture: (http://www.freedomfromtorture.org/about/15/5254)
Freedom from Torture provide direct clinical services to survivors of torture who arrive in the UK, as well as striving to protect and promote their rights. The office in Newcastle covers the North East and Cumbria.
- JET (Jobs, Education, Training): ( http://www.jetnorth.org.uk)
JET offer support with integration activities, particularly for women, and also looking for employment and training.
- Newcastle Law Centre: (https://www.newcastlelawcentre.co.uk)
Newcastle Law Centre is a small charity providing specialist legal advice to those clients who cannot get legal aid to help with: (a) Fresh claims for asylum, (b) Asylum appeals, (c) Family Reunion applications. They welcome volunteers to help with admin. Details can be found here: https://www.newcastlelawcentre.co.uk/volunteer/admin. The also welcome donations to help with the cost of client cases, for example translations and interpreters, these can be made here: https://mydonate.bt.com/charities/newcastlelawcentre. More information about their work with refugees and asylum seekers can be found here: https://www.newcastlelawcentre.co.uk/projects/nerlp
- North of England Refugee Service: (http://www.refugee.org.uk/)
The North of England Refugee Service was established in 1989. It is an independent and charitable organisation which exists to meet the needs and promote the interests of asylum seekers and refugees who have arrived or have settled in the North of England.
- Red Cross ( http://www.redcross.org.uk/What-we-do/Refugee-support/Our-services-for-refugees)
The Red Cross supports refugees in a wide variety of ways, from offering emergency provisions to those facing severe hardship to giving orientation support and friendly advice to the most vulnerable.
- Regional Refugee Forum: (http://www.refugeevoices.org.uk/)
The Regional Refugee Forum North East is the Collective, Advocate Voice of the region's refugee-led Community Organisations (RCOs).
- West End Refugee Service: (http://www.wers.org.uk/)
The West End Refugee Service (WERS) is a registered charity supporting asylum seekers and refugees in Newcastle. Services include: daily drop-in advice sessions, befriending scheme, clothing store, hardship fund, awareness raising and training.
The British Red Cross have set up a Crisis Helpline to triage calls to appropriate organisations. They can be contacted on 0800 107 8727.
I want to offer some accommodation
I have a spare room
At this point, government is not anticipating the need to accommodate Syrian refugees in people's houses. Any refugees coming into the country via the Syrian VPR scheme will be provided with housing as part of the resettlement package.
However, there are an estimated 100 destitute, refused asylum seekers living in Newcastle who have no access to housing, employment or public funds. These are people who have been unable to prove their asylum case to the government but feel unable to return to their home country for fear of persecution. In Newcastle, we are fortunate to have the Action Foundation, a charitable organisation, which runs a small housing project to help people in this situation. If you are interested in finding out more about this project, and how you can help, please contact the Action Foundation (www.actionfoundation.org.uk)
I want to foster a child
Please speak to the Newcastle Foster Service if you would like to find out more about fostering.
I want to lobby
There are a number of campaigns calling on Governments to do more to protect the rights of refugees and to ensure safe routes to protection for those fleeing conflict and persecution.
More information on these campaigns/petitions can be found on: