The St Vincent’s Support Centre is helping Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Leeds.
The Centre runs a weekly Immigration & Migration Drop-in on Thursday mornings. Legal advice is provided free by solicitors from the Manuel Bravo project and immigration information given by Julie Linley who is OISC accredited. The service is supported by a team of volunteers, including SVP Conference members, who offer pastoral support. On Fridays there is an additional surgery for those needing help completing travel documents. Approximately 35 people are seen each week and last year 989 people were helped, 457 of who were living in, or at risk of, destitution.
The Centre also provides free ESOL classes and group activities including Art & Conversation, a Good Mood Group and educational visits such as a lambing trip to the Yorkshire Dales.
Emergency food parcels and clothing are distributed via a referral system on Friday afternoons. Donations of food and clothing from all over the Diocese are delivered here.
Recently they helped a family that had fled from Iraq.
The family came to an outreach service that St Vincent’s staff attend at St Hilda`s Church. They had recently been housed in Leeds after a long journey to Britain, fleeing from their home in Mosul. They are a family of 5 with 3 children aged 10, 8 & 5. Their English was very limited. They had a number of documents that they needed help with including school admissions and GP forms. They were invited to come to the drop-in the next Thursday morning and, with the help of a volunteer to translate, it was established that they were desperate to learn English and also get their children into school as they had not been able to attend education in Mosul for 3 years. The younger children also needed basic immunisation.
The SVSC team were able to offer support from a volunteer to identify local schools and attend appointments with the family to register. The family registered for ESOL classes and we were able to offer help with a parcel of food & toiletries. It also became apparent that the children had left their home with no toys and we offered them some from the Christmas stock that we gather throughout the year. The family visit the centre often and it is great to see their confidence growing and their English improving.
The St Vincent’s Support Centre is a Community Support Project of the St Vincent de Paul Society and is dedicated to changing lives through advice, support and education.