In 2016 the Diocese granted the use of an empty presbytery in Leeds to provide a sanctuary for destitute asylum seekers. St Monica’s and Catholic Care worked hard together to get the property ready and to meet all the necessary regulations before the first person was welcomed.
On 13 June 2019 Bishop Marcus visited the house and met some of the current failed asylum-seeking women residing in the property, hearing first hand of their plights, what they have left behind, why they are seeking asylum in the UK and the issues they are facing with a very difficult process. He was amazed at their resilience and the fact that they simply do not give up.
Bishop Marcus was also able to meet some of the Trustees and volunteers and gained an insight into the work which goes into the smooth running of the project.
First set up in 2010 in response to the desperate plight of hundreds of destitute asylum seekers in Leeds living rough, sleeping on a friend’s sofa or makeshift beds, St Monica’s provide a safe, stable and temporary environment where destitute asylum-seeking women are treated with dignity and respect. This ‘breathing space’ enables the women to have a better chance of pursuing their asylum claim.
A team of volunteers form a management committee to provide support to these very vulnerable women in a variety of practical ways.
Grants and donations are used to cover the running costs of the properties and to provide a small allowance for food and other necessary expenses.