DCRS Annual Review 2011


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DCRS Annual Review 2011

  1. 1. Devon and Cornwall Refugee Support Annual Review 2011 7 Whimple Street, Plymouth PL1 2DH Telephone: 01752 265952 Web: http://dctsc1.cfsites.org E-mail: dcrsc@btopenworld.com Registered Charity Number: 1130360 Registered Company No: 06271122 OISC Exemption No: N200100427 1
  2. 2. INDEXMission Statement 4Trustees and Staff 4A Review of 2011 7Statistics 8Masiandae Centre: Open Each Weekday 11Volunteering 17Perspective on the Project Support Work 19Asylum ‘Legacy’ Cases 23One Woman’s Experience 24Project Support Workers Dealing With Traumatised Service Users 28A True Story 29Sports and Activities 31Training and Outreach 32Food Programme 34Clothing Store 35Internet Suite 35Act OK: A New Initiative 37My First Impressions of Plymouth 38Financial Statement 39Income and Expenditure 40 2
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  4. 4. MISSION STATEMENTDevon and Cornwall Refugee Support aims to ensure that asylum seekers and refugees (ASR) receive the full benefit of theirentitlements under UK and international law. We aim to provide a culturally sensitive and practical response to the needs ofthe ASR community. TRUSTEES AND STAFFMs Lucy Beckwith Mrs Patricia Baxter(from 28 September 2011) Project Support Worker, OISC Level 1 AdvisorMiss Elizabeth Hardinge MBE Ms Joanne Higson Training and Outreach Co-ordinatorProfessor David Huntley Mrs Pat Joyce(from 28 September 2011) Project Support Worker, OISC Level 1 Advisor 4
  5. 5. Mr John Jebb Mrs Helen Laolu-Balogun Project Support Worker, OISC Level 1 Advisor (to September 2011)Dr Penelope Key OBE Mr Hugh Marwick Project Support Worker, OISC Level 1 Advisor (from December 2011)Mrs Isatta Kallon Mr Robert Newell Finance Co-ordinatorMr Arnold Melhuish Mrs Irena Onions(Vice-chair and Company Secretary to Project Support Worker, OISC Level 1 AdvisorJan 2012)Mr Geoffrey Read Mr Ellis Ransom(to 4 October 2011) Sports and Activities Co-ordinator 5
  6. 6. Mrs Christine ReidMrs Lorna Sewell Mrs Svetlana Stoupnikov-Timoshenkov(Chair) (Treasurer)Mr John Shinner Mrs Sue Turner(Project Director) (from 28 September 2011)Mr Colin Stares JP Martin Wyatt (from 28 September 2011) (Board and Company Secretary from Jan 2012) OUR FUNDERS: 6
  7. 7. A REVIEW OF 2011 FROM THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES Mrs Lorna Sewell, Chair of the DCRS Board of TrusteesIn my Review for 2010, I said that Funding would be one of As anticipated in my last report, this has been a very bigour priorities for 2011. commitment both for the staff and our volunteers and would be hard to achieve if it wasn’t for their dedication.You will see elsewhere that that has certainly been thecase. Our Funding Group consisting of 3 Trustees, headed We have had visits this year including the Lord Mayor &by Colin Stares, have been working hard to obtain the Lady Mayoress of Plymouth, Alison Seabeck MP, Oliverfunds we need to continue the work we do, in a most Colvile M.P. Gary Streeter M.P. the Rector & his team fromdifficult economic climate, with many charities chasing the the Minster Church of Plymouth, & others, all who havereducing amount of funds that are available. We are most shown great interest and astonishment that it is notgrateful to our Funders for supporting us and enabling us unusual for between 50 & 60 SUs to visit the Centre forto continue to support the asylum seekers and refugees in advice & support any morning.Plymouth. During 2011, one of our Trustees and News Letter Editor,You will have seen that we have changed our name very Geoff Read, was a winner of the local newspaper Goldslightly, to Devon & Cornwall Refugee Support (DCRS) to Star Awards as one of the “unsung heroes” for dedicatedenable us to become a Company Limited by Guarantee as work done in the community. He received this award at aare most charities. Over the next few months therefore, we dinner given by the Lord Mayor. He was just one of theexpect to expand our Board of Trustees with some new many who give their time to DCRS .faces and expertise. 2012 continues to be a demanding time with changes toOur extra staff which we were able to employ with the Big personnel, but the Board will continue to make sure thatLottery funding, have meant that we have been able to our Mission Statement continues to be followed.expand our support to our Service Users (SUs), includingincreasing our Drop-in days to 5. 7
  8. 8. STATISTICS John Jebb, TrusteeThe recording of non-financial data at DCRS covers two overlapping periods: the calendar year and the “Big Lottery” year,which runs from May to April. We are required to collate data for the Big Lottery on a different basis, but the following refers toJanuary-December 2011.There are few clear trends. The fluctuations month on month clearly reflect the very fluid nature of our service user base:people leave as new ones arrive; their status changes; their issues simplify or become more pressing - there are manypossible reasons.Despite these fluctuations, there is a general drift upwards in many of the fields we record, and comparisons with 2010 areshown below where possible.It should be remembered that the following figures refer to service user visits, not the actual number of individuals who visitDCRS. 2011 2010 Number of client visits 11000 8093 Number of client consultations 7055 5106 Number of clients age under 35 5400 3979 Number of clients age over 35 1655 1127 Female client visits 1650 558 Male client visits 9350 7535 Project Support work interviews 7055 5106 8
  9. 9. Total visits to DCRS New Service UsersThe closure of Refugee Action may have been the main Throughout the year we received a steady influx of newreason for a noticeable increase in the numbers signing in SUs, who in many cases have been dispersed from Cardiffat reception towards the end of 2010. after arrival in the UK.The total for 2011 was over 11,000, an increase of 28%. These have averaged 22 per month in 2011, a total of 267.This figure, of course, represents those coming in for all ourservices, not just visits to PSWs, or simply for tea, coffee This represents an increase over 2010, but it is partlyand a meeting with friends. balanced by SUs who move on, many of whom have gained leave to remain in this country or citizenship.Nationalities and Languages InterpretingThe data for nationalities and languages spoken has to be treated with some A major issue in everyday casework iscaution because, as mentioned above, it does not provide a total for interpreting. Individual SUs are oftenindividuals but only total visits to PSWs. However, it may provide a general very willing to help their friends. We areguide to the proportions of different nationalities we have amongst our service also very fortunate in having individualusers and how these change year on year. In 2011, 54% of all visits involving PSWs who are native speakers incasework were made by Iranians, Sudanese, Iraqis and Eritreans, with a Arabic, and they have been largelynotable reduction in Afghanis since 2010. 57% of these visits involved Arabic, instrumental in providing 267 hours ofKurdish Sorani and Farsi speakers. Here again, the decline in Afghani visits interpreting during the year.was reflected in a decline in those speaking Pashtu.ConclusionThe quality of recording by the staff is very high, especially considering the pressures to which they are subjected, so overall,our data can be regarded as easily 95% accurate. The figures certainly reveal the huge amount of work accomplished by thestaff under testing conditions in a less than ideal environment. Furthermore, there are the countless very "brief encounters"between staff and service users which go unrecorded, so DCRS can justly claim that it is doing much more than these figuresshow. 9
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  11. 11. MASIANDAE CENTRE: OPEN EACH WEEKDAY Trish Baxter, Lead Project Support Worker, OISC Level 1 AdvisorWe celebrate another year of service to those vulnerable We acknowledge the many generous supporters who gavepersons who, whilst dispersed to our city, would otherwise of their finances, goods, time and effort to allow Masiandaebe abandoned in their legal process of claiming asylum. to continue offering a full support service. There areWe have been open to offer a drop-in service five days per always many who are made destitute in the local area andweek, on account that numerous volunteers, with the same it was a challenge to which we admitted having no solution.heart to serve as our staff, have enabled the Masiandae Unless resourceful donors provide what is most needful,Centre to offer a safe social environment with access to six accommodation for the homeless is not something we cansources of assistance. signpost to, despite seeking out those who may offer suitable property.Many of our services users are not able to communicate inEnglish well enough to express their need, and most come With the available social housing in Plymouth being muchfrom countries where language is written in a script form, lower than is needed for the many who are on the waitingwhich also denies them recognition of their own name. list, this year has been a desperately frustrating experienceProviding the means to communicate adequately has been for DCRS staff and partners who have had to explain topossible throughout the year mainly due to the offer of newly granted refugees that unless they are prepared tosome well-trusted interpreters who give back some of their sleep rough for at least three nights in a row, the homelessfree time in gratitude of help given to them in their own unit will not be able to prioritise their need for a safe placeprocess to being granted leave to remain in the UK. to sleep. In order to safeguard their well-being, we have had the shameful task of sending them out into the streetsCommunicating with family, friends and solicitors is a vital with our rough sleeper’s kit and food that needs nopart of our provision in guarding their mental health. During cooking. We endeavour to find empathetic hosts, or willingthe year we were able to increase our IT suite facilities with landlords who would dedicate property to newly grantednew computers and upgrades to include headphones and refugees. One of our volunteers, Sheila Boddington, ispersonal covers to these sets. Amongst those volunteers seeking to establish a house in the future that will cater forwho supervise this service have been faithful volunteers such vulnerable individuals. We have encouraged her tolike Martin Tyrell, Colin Stares, Ronan O’Ceallaigh, AlanLamble and Toni Azzopardi, who have maintained the find others of like mind to share her vision and provide a management team necessary to achieve her goal.efficiency and quality of the computers so well. 11
  12. 12. Advice & Advocacy and attitudes that makes advocacy so much more effective. The occasional domestic violence case can beFacing the challenges of our present political climate brings treated with discretion when communication is vital toendurance in the team efforts made by Trustees, staff and signpost them to the correct service. It has been obviousvolunteers. Their endurance has been so evident in the throughout the year that the Arabic speaking women havelast year. appreciated being able to communicate both freely andBeginning the year with four project support workers and privately with someone they trust understands them. She,opening five days per week for drop-in sessions was a too, has had to advocate for a minor who came as a 14demanding task that has continued to date. Each member year old in order to change his environment and place himhas contributed different skills and life experience to in the care of social services and provision of foster carecompliment each other’s insight and expertise. All until he is 18 years old.registered OISC Level 1 Advisors committed their efforts to 2011 has been another year of continued effort by Pat toseeing resolution to the many challenges by creating establish good practice in the liaison between socialinternal procedures to enable them to adequately signpost services, welfare solicitors and immigration advisors whento other providers in appropriate cases or have the tools dealing with those minors, age disputed on entry to the UK.and capacity to meet the needs of the service users. She has developed links and confidence in areas ofProject Support Worker (PSW) Helen Laolu-Balogun advocacy that DCRS staff did not practice before whenoffered support to many female service users who sought Refugee Action were functioning in their role of One Stopher personal insight and strength of character. She had in Plymouth in 2010. Thus it was that she was invited totwo visually impaired men whose needs stretched our local speak at a Conference regarding Vulnerable Youth atnetworking and concluded by successfully partnering with Plymouth University and presented her paper to another agencies that specifically met the needs of those appreciative crowd of attendees. She continues to pressindividuals. It was with mixed sadness and congratulations for better services and justice in this area whilst it remainsthat Helen left in September to further her career. such a contentious issue and discriminative in its dealingPSW Irena Onions’s experience of refugees, Arabic with unaccompanied children. There are other vulnerableculture, and interpreting opportunities offered the team a service users, such as the alcoholic whose undetermineddimension of understanding that would have left us lacking claim has caused depression and dependency to cope within those areas of our work. The continuing need for the suffering. Pat has found herself advocating for theiradequate interpreting skills means that we have depended rights to support and challenging prejudice within theon her language skills for those speaking Arabic and have institutions.been grateful for her understanding of cultural differences 12
  13. 13. PSW Pat Joyce offered her managerial skills to develop Through speaking with Joanne Hopkins (UKBA director forand facilitate training for those volunteers who act in a SW region) at the Citizens for Sanctuary meeting, Trish wasreceptionist role at the Centre. Clear roles and invited to the Local Immigration Office to discuss our offer toprocedures have given confidence to staff and volunteers provide training around awareness of our service users’in their function from day to day. vulnerabilities as persecuted persons. She proposed that DCRS staff and Service User testimonies could assist betterTrish continued to co-ordinate the team and supervise understanding to Immigration Enforcement Officers, butthe development of the centre’s services with the addition although the suggestion was to be considered, no responseand growth of activities through Ellis Ransom and Jo came back to initiate any input into their training during 2011.Higson in their differing roles. It was a truly rewardingexperience to see the many service users positively Team Away Days at the beginning and middle of the yearintegrate in ways the PSWs could not offer from the enhanced our relationships and awareness of each other’sconfines of their offices. Service Users who came strengths so that we met the challenges ahead with anfrequently distressed or anxious, gradually were appreciation of what could be achieved by working together.encouraged to participate in sports and other activities or Trustees John Shinner and John Jebb continued faithfully totake the opportunities of in-house ESOL classes whilst support on a weekly basis contributing their views anddenied access to college places, due to government insight where it was necessary. It is acknowledged that therestrictions on funds for educational institutions. She IT suite, Clothing Store and ESOL classes provided, as wellencouraged able volunteers to assist staff members in as the drop-in sessions, would not have been possiblesimple ways, which alleviated the stress and demand of without volunteers like them, and all the many who havewhat was considered fast track tasks at our Triage given of their free time over the year. When funding wasstation. Training for auxiliary volunteers was offered twice secured to equip and upgrade the basement, it was theduring the year, which included a brief overview of the efforts of service users, volunteers, staff and Trustees thatImmigration system of claiming asylum and the Asylum renovated and furnished the area to make these servicesSupport contract that affects many of our service users. more conducive to all. 13
  14. 14. Whilst the local legal aid funded immigration advice remained nil, Ashok, Adam and Mehul were such committedthe staff remained resilient and steadfast to seek adequate Solicitors to their task that the co-operationprovision elsewhere. The LSC rules made it nigh impossible at between DCRS, local agencies and themselvestimes to find any Solicitor who was willing to take on claimants’ accomplished an effective provision for many whocases after becoming abandoned when they were dispersed from would have otherwise remained unrepresented andthe Cardiff area to Plymouth. Solicitors in other cities were often subsequently unfairly treated in their legal process.over capacity or unable to offer travel expenses for service users Adam provided both good advice and trainingto attend interview appointments. This challenged our relief sessions for us, and others, who needed morebudget, which exists by the kindness of our donors, to cover costs insight to certain aspects of the asylum process.when individuals are destitute or unable to afford necessary travel We benefitted from his experience and certainlyor essential items. It also challenged us to find willing advisors to grew in confidence regarding dealing with thoseoffer the necessary instructions to help service users return forms matters affecting those unrepresented serviceand reply notices in the time constraints stipulated by immigration users that still seek our help. Ismail & Co. Solicitorsrules. continued to provide the possibility of legal aidedRosie Brennan, the local ILPA representative, campaigned with advice for the rest of the year, although we heardothers to secure legal aided advice in Plymouth which enabled that their contract was under review by December.Ismail & Co Solicitors in Enfield to attend a Plymouth office twodays per week and deal with asylum issues and immigrationmatters at level 2 and 3. 14
  15. 15. Building capacity in our locality means meeting with other providers and agencies that are vital to our task of signposting tothe relevant services that can best help our service users. In this respect we had both visitors and visited those such as:  Housing Association staff, who have little experience of victims of torture and the symptoms of post traumatic stress or adjustment disorders that often accompany such refugees during the early stages of independence.  Caroline Lodge, the regional befriender from Medical Foundation of Victims of Torture, particularly supporting unaccompanied children in the south west area.  Foster Carers who are often unaware of the legalities around immigration law and the asylum process.  Children and Mental Health Service (CAMHS)` personnel, who recognise the insecurities of BME parents and its effect on family life. Child victims also need specialised support from such an agency.  Members of Parliament from the Plymouth constituencies who are responsible for representing our concerns about current government policies that have an impact on our service users. Alison Seabeck, Gary Streeter and Oliver Colvile visited us during the year. Alison gladly offered a supporting letter for any future funders.  Local councillors, working under government cutbacks, who can share insight and informed debate about present conditions of housing or other issues  Each Lord Mayor during the year gladly visited and all have been very sympathetic to our aims. They demonstrated a very personal interest on every occasion we met.  UKBA staff, who often distort the view of the public by misrepresenting our claimants as economic migrants and fail to oppose the media presentation of those seeking sanctuary by treating those deemed “failed” as if they were criminals.  Students at University who are studying migration and refugee issues.  Voluntary Sector staff who network with us across the provision of services.Creating opportunities and raising awareness in the public domain has been a welcome task to all staff members, althoughhard to accommodate in a busy schedule. It is something we value and Trustees also take such opportunities when invited toshare at various groups, or supporters functions across the region. 15
  16. 16. During the year of 2011, therefore, there have been many people who have stood with us in principle and demonstrated this invarying ways.  Citizens of Sanctuary local and national campaigns to demand that children do not go into detention centres won government assent and achieved changes we trust will eradicate the criminalisation of families detained either before or after their claim has been decided.  Frontline agencies and organisations have advocated for the right of access to funded representation for those who would otherwise be abandoned in their legal process due to recent changes in policies of the Legal Services Commissioner (LSC).  Donations of food and finance have allowed DCRS to alleviate hardship caused by Government cuts. Current polices have restricted funds that provide Asylum Support to destitute claimants which has, in turn, led the Home Office Administrative staff to restrict provision at times. This causes worsening conditions for those who are penalised in the process.  Pro bono Solicitors and ILPA campaigns have advocated on our behalf when good and effective immigration advisors have been forced out from offering legal aided representation and left the South West of England impoverished of necessary advice to our service users.  Community & Faith groups have stood in the gap for those affected by new Family Removal procedures. Deemed to have “failed” their right to stay in the UK those genuine claimants are negatively affected by the Home Office reducing subsistence support to children only. This has left even torture victims to suffer the consequences of further indignity and poverty whilst seeking judicial review with evidence that should have been dealt with by previous Solicitors.  Local Refugee Housing Support Services have been tireless in their efforts to link refugees to both entitlements and housing in a season when the dearth of social housing has left newly granted leave to remain persons street homeless for weeks, and sometimes months.  Concerned individuals are passionate to find resolution to destitution levels locally. Refusal decisions for those who will not be able to return to places like Eritrea, Somalia, Palestine, etc. create increased desperation and hopelessness when the UK government prohibit employment and deem them “no recourse to public funds”! Homelessness in Plymouth and the South West is one of the prevailing challenges we face year after year. 16
  17. 17. Involvement, as a project support worker, has its pressures and negative side, due to the immigration system and itsrestrictive practices. Yet, nothing outweighs the reward that comes to each of us when we read someone’s positive decision,give an individual their status document, are introduced to reunited members of their family, or witness the ceremony of newlysworn British citizens. Each one is a precious moment that makes it worthwhile to persevere. We aim to stay open for as longas the demand for our support tells us we are a trusted service, vital to those who require help to access their legal rights. VOLUNTEERING Liz Hardinge, Trustee and Volunteer Co-ordinatorWe are constantly grateful to over 50 volunteers who We do this by welcoming them into the centre, offeringregularly help us maintain our services, staffing the reception them tea or coffee and putting them at their ease. It isdesk, Clothing store, food programme and supervising the IT always great to see how someones’ situation hassuite as well as helping with English teaching and many improved after seeing a case worker, or being given aactivities and not forgetting the endless cups of tea and parcel of food, or much needed clothing, or being able tocoffee and washing up! We couldnt manage without them. contact friends or relatives via the internet. The simple act of making a dental appointment or doctor’s appointment can be extremely helpful and to have aOne of our reception volunteers wrote "To be a volunteer at volunteer who befriends a user in such a way that theyDCRS is one of the most enlightening and rewarding jobs, in will accompany a person to one of these appointments isthat we are learning about different nationalities and their invaluable. Encouraging the service users to join one ofproblems and how we go about welcoming them in to our the English classes and taking part in some of thecountry and making them feel better. There are many outdoor activities is also very rewarding. Sometimes wemisconceptions about refugees and asylum seekers, see deep depression but to raise a smile makestherefore it is particularly rewarding on our part to learn more everything worthwhile."about their situations and how best we can help. 17
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  19. 19. PERSPECTIVE ON THE PROJECT SUPPORT WORK Irena Onions, Project Support Worker, OISC Level 1 AdvisorLike any organisation in a changing world, DCRS is challenged with responding to the needs of its service users, and to thelegal and practical environment we find ourselves in. Although patterns of change are always complex, some trends can beidentified through the last year. Looking back at what has happened and what we have learned may help us to think of waysto move forward in the year ahead.Themes through 2011-12Each employee, volunteer and service user will have an One trend in the last year, an increase in awards ofindividual perspective on events. I hope to contribute to the on- discretionary leave is, for the individual service usersgoing dialogue by identifying the major themes of our year from concerned, highly positive. However, we should bemy own point of view. aware that it is quite possible for such a trend to reverse in a short period of time, and that we willThe make-up of asylum seekers dispersed to Plymouth has have to deal with the consequences of any suchcontinued to change. The range of service users accessing change. It is also possible that such awards mayDCRS is becoming ethnically and linguistically more diverse, encourage refused asylum seekers to remain in therequiring us to maintain and enhance the flexibility we show in UK contrary to their best interests, even if they doresponding to their needs. not have a realistic probability of receivingThe increase in the number of negative asylum decisions discretionary leave. At the same time we will alwaysreceived by our service users over the last year is obviously a support our service users in their decisions, but it iscause for real concern. However, as we cannot change the also important for us to help them to make properlyrealities of the current political and procedural climate, we can informed decisions that do not cause them harm.only maintain our focus on dealing with the consequences of anegative decision. Helping service users plan and implementpractical steps forward from a negative decision is becomingincreasingly important to our work. 19
  20. 20. Achievements and successes in 2011-12 Channels of communication in both directions should be kept open and active. With this in mind, it may beWe have much to be proud of in our achievements of the appropriate to seek a meeting to organise coordinationlast year. Providing the service that we do will always be between us and them, which would serve the dual purposean uphill struggle, but it is always good to remember the of dealing with technical issues and starting a dialogueimportance of what we do. I hope that this annual review between the two organisations.can provide an opportunity to reflect on our successes andsee what we can learn from them. A number of successful appeals against the withdrawal of controlled legal representation have also been a positiveDuring the last year, our working relationship with Ismail & outcome of the last year. While assisting service users inCo Solicitors has been both positive and productive. The making these “CW4” applications is obviously of greatmost tangible benefits have been the successful cases we practical importance, as so little legal action is possiblehelped to produce through the information and support we without representation, it also provides an opportunity togave to Ismail & Co. However, the close working personally empower service users by enabling them torelationship has also brought the benefit of giving service support their own case. In a system that can beusers an opportunity to be listened to and given a chance disorienting and disempowering, such opportunities shouldby legal professionals. Appropriate professional advice be identified and rigorously pursued.offers reassurance and dignity, even where a legal solutioncannot ultimately be found to the problem. I have also had experience in the last year of the difficulties that may follow a successful CW4 appeal. The new legalA challenge for the year ahead will be to replicate, with representatives may find themselves with little time toMigrant Legal Project, the kind of positive relationship that prepare for a tribunal and unable to obtain more than awe have had with Ismail & Co. In order to achieve this, we very short adjournment. We should therefore be mindful ofshould focus on it as a goal, and take specific steps to any ways in which we can facilitate their work, in order topromote it. We should seek to ensure that information is help them provide our service users with the best possiblepromptly provided to Migrant Legal Project in a format that representation.is clear and appropriate to their needs. 20
  21. 21. Major challenges facing us at this pointIt is worth noting that all the challenges DCRS faces as an Where the decision appears to have been correct, thereorganisation are exacerbated by the scarcity of advice and are a number of practical steps that can be taken, includingsupport services for asylum seekers in Plymouth. Given helping the service user to explore the possibility ofthe current economic and political climate, it seems unlikely voluntary return. However, in the case of what appears tothat this will change in the near future. We can only, be an incorrect negative decision, our situation is moretherefore, focus on achieving the best possible outcomes complex and difficult. If we cannot help our client accessfor our service users and maintaining morale as best we the representation which they will almost certainly requirecan. We face very real and significant challenges, but we for a successful appeal, there is little further we can docan and do achieve very real and significant good. beyond the ordinary practical assistance we provide.The other major challenge we face is the observable shift A linked problem is the apparent increasing tendency ofin the political landscape in recent years. The push towards solicitors to withdraw legal representation at too early aa faster asylum decision process potentially beneficial to stage and without gathering sufficient evidence toour service users, as the process itself is inherently effectively apply the merits test to their client’s case. Whileunpleasant, uncertain and undignified. However, there it is possible that this is a result of pressure from the Legalappears to have been a reduction in the quality of the Services Commission, we should do everything we can toprocess as a result of the increase in speed. Incorrect show that it is unacceptable practice to behave in thisnegative decisions and unenforced decisions do not manner. By not correctly applying the merits test to aremove asylum seekers from the limbo of the asylum client’s case, a solicitor fails to comply with Solicitorsprocess, but rather worsen their experience by removing Regulation Authority principle 4, which requires them to actany timescale and adding a serious risk of destitution to in the best interests of their client. We should ensure thattheir concerns. we highlight to the LSC all incorrect withdrawals of representation, especially where a particular firm isOur response to negative decisions must rely, to some repeatedly responsible.extent, on our professional judgement of the merits of thedecision itself. 21
  22. 22. Looking to the futureSpeaking realistically, the challenges faced by asylum- The importance of the services provided by DCRS shouldseekers and their support agencies are unlikely to be not be underestimated. However, in a difficult world, onesignificantly reduced in the foreseeable future. This being organisation alone cannot solve all the problems that needthe case, the work that we do will continue to be vital for to be addressed.the welfare of some of the most vulnerable and Continuing the work of building better connections withdisadvantaged people in our society. It is likely that we will other organisations and communities presents manyneed to carry on improving our service as the effect of opportunities to expand and improve the service that wepolitical and economic change is fully felt. offer, and should remain a central focus of the long-term vision of DCRS. 22
  23. 23. ASYLUM ‘LEGACY’ CASES Pat Joyce, Project Support Worker, OISC Level 1 AdvisorFor many of our Service Users (SUs), July 2011 was a As July approached, thankfully for some the long waitsignificant date – the date given by the Home Office when came to an end and DCRS was able to celebrate withall ‘legacy’ cases, those cases left unresolved up to 5 th those SUs who received a positive decision granting themMarch 2007, would be concluded and decisions made. Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the United Kingdom.This date became a hopeful light at the end of a very long For others, however, the date came and went, and the longtunnel; a tunnel that some individuals and families have awaited decision never materialised. These people havebeen travelling through for 10 years or more while awaiting been left confused, even more fearful and desperate toa conclusion to their asylum applications. Some people know what they should do now.never received a Home Office decision, while others hadtheir claims refused because they did not fit into the narrow Recently, we have seen a few of those who did not get acriteria of the Refugee Convention or the relevant Human decision in July 2011, granted Limited Leave to Remain (3Rights Acts; however, the Home Office did not return these years) instead of ILR. These people will have to apply forpeople to the countries they had fled from (or could not a further 3 years Leave to Remain once their current Leavebecause it would be too dangerous to do so). expires and so it will be six years before they can apply for ILR and feel totally settled. There are still many thoughIt is difficult to comprehend what it must really be like to live who have not heard anything, including families whosein such a state of limbo, but we know that such children have made a life for themselves here in the UK.experiences have left many of the people we see at DCRSin a state of exasperation, anxiety and depression. The The new asylum model (NAM) was introduced in Marchproblem for Project Support Workers (PSWs) is that there 2007, which was supposed to streamline the asylumis often very little advice we can give someone in this process so decisions were made within an agreed timesituation and, depending on the original claim or what has frame, preventing a repeat of this situation. We are,happened to them during those years of waiting, there is however, now experiencing another wave of ‘legacy’ as aoften nothing an immigration solicitor can offer either, other new back log has developed and again many people havethan to advise to continue to wait. been waiting several years without a decision - some people two years down the line have not even had their initial asylum interview. 23
  24. 24. ONE WOMAN’S EXPERIENCE AS SHE WAITED FOR HER LEGACY DECISION Poem written by Pat Joyce, Project Support Worker SANCTUARYI pushed the soft plastic ring into her chomping tiny mouth.She bit hard and her head tossed about in frustration in the crutch of my arm.It’s not enough, it’s not, I know, relieving the discomfort.I know what she wants - but am I ready for the pain; to be chewed so violently just now - Justnow when I am confused and concerned and seek some comfort myself?She’s beautiful - the only light in the darkness that threatens to engulf and drown me.“Make sure your nipples are fully in” I’m told “so she can’t bite”.Her discomfort makes my own pain more intense.I lift my jumper, snatch at my bra and place my nipple deep into her mouth. She guzzlesand guzzles and sucks and sucks then finally she relaxes and falls asleep.I look down at her. Did my mother look at me this way? Was I the centre of her universe? Idon’t know, I don’t remember… I was only three when she passed away.I look at Lois, so dependent on me, so needy. Love is such a strong bond between mother andbaby – between mother and child - but that bond for me was severed and in its place a cruelother.How would she survive without me? Will she still be so needy at three? Of course she will! Iwant her to be safe but what does the future hold for us?If I am to protect her I need a place of sanctuary, a place where we can grow strong together– a place where she does not have to go through the pain I went through.Please keep me safe for her! I beg you, please don’t turn us away. 24
  25. 25. I was moved to write this poem after a visit from a young who promised him she could give her a better life.woman, one Friday afternoon in late October 2011, who The woman attempted to traffick her into the UK under thecame to the centre looking for advice. She had been guise of her mother, but it became obvious along the waywaiting for the deadline date in July after being in this that the better life the woman had in mind for her was onecountry for 10 years, but had heard nothing. She was of exploitation. A UK Immigration Officer at the port ofextremely distressed following an interview she had been entry advised her to claim asylum when he realised whatcalled to attend with her six month old baby at the UK was happening but her claim failed as the RefugeeBorder Agency’s Immigration offices in Plymouth. The Convention does not cover trafficking. She was notquestions she had been asked during the interview left her returned to Nigeria but left destitute in the London areaconvinced that the Home Office was preparing to return her until 3 years ago when she met a man with Europeanto Nigeria where she had no contact with her family and nationality. He supported her for a couple of years butwhere she felt she and the baby would be in danger. abandoned her when she became pregnant.She was so distressed that she was finding it difficult to With a dependent child and her case being consideredoffer her crying, hungry baby her breast to feed from, as under ‘legacy’ she became eligible for Section 4 supportshe knew that the pain from a teething baby would be too (support in the form of a voucher card, not cash, and amuch to cope with in addition to the emotional pain she room in a shared house) and dispersed to Plymouth.was experiencing from her ordeal. It was a pitiful sight toobserve and one could only offer comfort and In February this year I received a frantic phone call fromencouragement. She did not want her child to go through the woman asking for advice following receipt of athe same experience she had been through; she just confusing letter from the Asylum Support Services. Thewanted a place of sanctuary where she could bring up her letter was two pages long and the main body explainedchild in safety. She did eventually give in and feed the baby that the Secretary of State had decided to discontinue herwho then fell asleep in her arms. As the baby slept and she support, advising she could appeal against this decision. Itstarted to regain her composure, she felt the need to tell reiterated that when she signed the declaration for Sectionme her story: 4 support she had agreed to comply with its conditions and that, if she failed to do so, she would face prosecution. CanThe young woman was from Nigeria. Her mother died you imagine what it must be like to read this type ofwhen she was three years old and her father married information when one lives in fear of such a letter and isagain, but her stepmother was very abusive. Finally, when already waiting for the UKBA to knock at the door,she was in her late teens, her brother got her away from especially following her experience at the interview?the house and handed her to a woman, 25
  26. 26. One is obviously going to think the worst. Writing the poem was my way that Friday evening in October of releasing the pressure of witnessing suchIt was not until the end of the letter that the grounds for emotional distress whilst at the same time still having todiscontinuation of support were noted: ‘REASON FOR retain some distance in order to deal rationally with theDISCONTINUING SUPPORT – Granted Leave to Remain.’ issues at hand.I looked at my client and asked her if she knew why her I, slightly nervously, gave the poem to the young womansupport had been stopped. She said No, I don’t know what next time she came into the centre, not knowing how sheI have done! would respond, but she was very grateful someone hadWhen she learned that she had been granted 3 years understood what she was going through and later told meLeave to Remain in the UK, it was like she had been struck she had stuck it to her fridge and read it every day.by lightning. She threw herself to the floor and began She now has her documents and has moved away fromscreaming and crying so loudly that other staff came Plymouth; she is still waiting for the baby’s documents asrunning into my office. She was inconsolable for quite they forgot to print these. Despite the initial shock and thesome time and needed time to take in the reality of what I fact that she will have to apply for Further Leave in threewas telling her. years’ time, this young woman was ecstatic about theI then had to return to my casework position as I realised decision and felt her prayers had been answered; she feltthat her S4 support would cease in less than three weeks’ she had been given the sanctuary and safety to movetime and without her Immigration Status Document she forward with her life, no longer needing to constantly fearwould be unable to apply for the UK benefits she was now the dreaded knock at the door.eligible for. Although the Home Office were aware of heraddress in Plymouth, it transpired that her documents hadbeen sent to a city in the North of England, where she hadnever lived. It took some effort on my part to get theAsylum support agency to extend her support until herdocuments were received. 26
  27. 27. Alison Seabeck MP visits the Centre 27
  28. 28. PROJECT SUPPORT WORKERS DEALING WITH TRAUMATISED SERVICE USERS Pat Joyce, Project Support Worker, OISC Level 1 AdvisorAs long as Plymouth remains a dispersal area, DCRS will Although compassion and justice inform our dealings,continue to be faced on a daily basis with individuals maintaining the right level of detachment in the face of sotraumatised by past experiences and suffering the much suffering can be an exhausting and emotionallyemotional distress of being in an asylum process that often draining process, and at the end of a long week it is oftenrobs them of their dignity and self-worth. difficult to find a way of releasing the pressure.It is necessary for PSWs to take an objective stance when In such a pressurised environment, it is important toadvising, often distancing themselves from the distress we understand that to be a good caseworker one cannot workare witnessing in order to understand the complex issues in isolation. It is important to not only recognise andand decide on the best course of action to take. It is our celebrate our own contributions but also the contributionsduty to understand the rights of our SUs, and often we of all those we work with, not only other staff but Trustees,have to fight to obtain what they are entitled to. Their volunteers, other service providers and refugeeneeds are relentless and often very complex and it is communities. Working collaboratively not only ensures adifficult to articulate to others the extremely pressurised supportive working environment, it also enables us toenvironment PSWs work in (this can, of course, also be the improve our own skills, understanding and knowledge and,case for our outreach workers). therefore, ensure best practice is being followed when dealing with the needs of those who seek our services. 28
  29. 29. A TRUE STORY John Shinner, Trustee and Project DirectorThis is a story of a young man from Afghanistan who is an After his initial interview he was dispersed to Plymouth. HeAsylum Seeker who was dispersed by the Home Office to arrived here in April 2009 unable to speak any English.Plymouth in 2009. While it is different from every other Young people under the age of 18 are immediately put inindividuals experience there are similarities which all our the care of social services. Abduls age was disputed andservice users could recognise. so initially he was treated as an adult, but after a long battle he came under the care of the social service. DuringI will call our young man Abdul. He lived in a remote village the 3 years here he has been able to learn our language. Itwhere his father was a supplier of goods for the Taliban. is not perfect but it is at a level where he can help othersThere was a dispute and his father was taken away and and assist where their needs are very basic as anAbdul has not seen him since. The Taliban were eager to example, finding a doctor, informing agencies of their newinvolve young people, telling them that as Muslims they address etc He is now attending Plymouth City Collegeshould be prepared to lose their own lives to gain and has just been voted student representative for hisapproval of Allah. At this point Abduls mother was so year.frightened for her son that she urged him to leave thecountry. He was only 14 and through a combination of His life in England has been very difficult and includes awalking, car, lorry and aeroplane he made his journey spell in detention when his age was disputed. He has stillthrough Iran, Turkey, Greece, Italy, France and finally to not received refugee status, with his case at the momentBritain. The final piece of his journey was by lorry and he before the courts. If he is returned to Afghanistan he will bewas dumped, not knowing where he was, in Bristol. The in real danger. Yet he attends our office with a smile on hisonly English word he knew was police by repeating this face and makes the very best of what life offers him here atand with the help of a black person he found himself in the the same time he gains enormous satisfaction from thelocal police station. They were not keen to help him but the help he is able to give to other service users seekingnext day he was interviewed by a woman from the local refuge in our country.Immigration Office who set in motion his application forAsylum. 29
  30. 30. 30
  31. 31. SPORTS AND ACTIVITIES Ellis Ransom, Sports and Activities Co-ordinatorI came in to post in November 2010 and by mid 2011 I felt Just down the road from HQ Building is the Home of Plymthat I had really started to settle into my new position as Youth, where we engage our Service Users on a weeklySports & Activities Co-ordinator. Although I’m originally basis, encouraging them to cook, access the internet, playfrom Plymouth, I had not lived here for many years, so the table tennis and pool and just feel safe in an environmentfirst few months of my job really required me to research outside the normal opening hours of DCRS.and network all the opportunities out there. The year also saw the start-up of two activities of a moreOnce I had settled into my new role I discovered that we outward bound dimension. The first of these was aneeded to offer some core activities, most of which were residential to Dartmoor during refugee week, whichbeing demanded by our Service Users but some of which included orienteering and paintballing. It was such awere on a trial basis as opportunities arose. Although we success we began to offer regular day visits andcan’t reach all our Service Users and never meet every residentials to both Dartmoor and Exmoor. With the help ofdemand, we now try to offer a good blend of activities and Mosaic and other organisations like SW Lakes, Thesignpost Service Users to activities which are less in Dartmoor Pony Heritage Centre, The National Parks,demand. Stepping Stones to Nature, we really feel that we have great prospects to carry this activity through into the future.2011 saw the start-up of a very successful fortnightly mini The other outward bound success was regular sailing5-a-side tournament, which Plymouth City Council kindly through the summer, which culminated in short residentialsagreed to finance for us. The initiative was such a success in and around Devon & Cornwall.we were able to engage over 450 separate visits from 33different countries. Following the success we have now These activities all form what we offer as a core provisionmanaged to secure further funding and run the sessions at DCRS. However, after establishing and developing onevery week. existing links in the community, we were able to create a more effective signposting system. Other signpostedWe also developed regular gym sessions for many of our activities that have really been in demand in 2011 includedService Users, who now continue to use the YMCA gym at coastal awareness events with Blue Sound, summerStonehouse HQ Building. activities with Sportivate, table tennis at Calstock and swimming with Plymouth City Council. 31
  32. 32. With all this going on during 2011, I felt the year went really Thanks to: Clare Taylor (Mosaic), Becky House (Bluequickly and as there was so much more to do in terms of Sound), Emily Cannon (SW Lakes), Bill Budge, Christinenetworking and researching and building on our core Reid, Paul Rickard, Arnold Melhuish, Chris French (Devonprovision by growing orienteering and offering more FA), Louise Oates (PCC), Annabel Allen (PCC), Steveswimming and keep fit opportunities. This is my drive for Donald (PCC), Martin Lees (PCC), Patrick (Blytheswood2012, with the focus always being on physical health which Hostel), Pete Laniado and Mike (Strange Magic), Craig &breeds sound mental health and vice-versa. Before reading John (Horizons), Queen Anne’s Battery, Alan Chapman,on please let me acknowledge the great support of the Sue and Sarah (Plym Youth), Dartmoor Pony Heritagefollowing people and organisations, without whom this Centre, Simon Lee (National Parks), Nina Arwitz, Robwould not have been possible. Barry and the team (Stonehouse Gym), John McGhee (Plymouth Harriers), Plymouth Music Zone, Martin Uglow, Mike Pengilley, Dominick Finnan, The Big Lottery, Mosaic, SW Lakes, Plymouth City Council, National Parks and all those who have donated clothing and equipment. TRAINING AND OUTREACH Jo Higson, Training and Outreach Co-ordinatorEnglish Classes There is still a greater demand than both colleges can fulfil and waiting lists before the January and September intakesThis year we have worked closely with both City College can be lengthy. In view of this, and the fact that access toPlymouth and Open Doors International Language School classes for newly arrived asylum seekers is restricted,(ODILS) to ensure as many of our Service Users as classes were set up in the Masiandae Centre usingpossible are able to access the ESOL courses that the two volunteer teachers. We have been fortunate in attractingoffer. Changes to the funding of classes for asylum qualified and experienced volunteer ESOL and TEFLseekers following the change in government have meant teachers who work well together to offer consistency andthat some of our Service Users are now required to make a another. One of our volunteers (and now a Trustee), Suecontribution to the costs of their courses, but both colleges Turner, has considerable experience and has beenhave ensured that appropriate courses are available and supporting the teachers, collating quality resources andno one has been turned away for not being able to pay. conducting assessments for those who have needed it. We 32
  33. 33. offer classes on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday – and Advocacysignpost learners to classes at About Time at Stoke Two of our volunteers (Paul Rickard and Bill Budge)Damerel Parish Centre on Tuesdays and Fridays – so a continue to provide invaluable mentoring and advocacyclass is available each day of the week. It has taken a few work with some of our young men – accompanying them tomonths for us to establish regular numbers but the classes appointments, ensuring their needs are heard andare now running well and by the end of the year we had a understood. Both have built good relationships with theregular attendance of ten to twelve Service Users at each individuals and agencies working with these young peopleclass. We have also looked for funding with About Time for which, along with the work Pat does, has ensured theya minibus to run between our centre and their classes but have been able to access the support they need.have not been successful in this as yet. This year I have worked as an advocate for female serviceAs part of the refurbishment of the basement and internet users who have needed quite high levels of support insuite, we were able to install English- language learning accessing the legal system for non-immigration issues andpackages on four of the laptops. We trialled a number of other services for themselves and their children.packages with users of different ages, abilities and firstlanguages, but Rosetta Stone was the package most felt Partnershipscomfortable with using and this is the one we have We have successfully managed to establish partnershipspurchased. with other agencies working in the city who offerMeet and Greet volunteering opportunities and training that are available to our Service Users. We have had a number successfullyAs part of the Big Lottery project we have funding to volunteer with Plymouth Play Association. This givessupport volunteers in Bristol, Newport and Cardiff people something fulfilling and worthwhile to do during theaccompanying our service users to appointments and for day and enables them to meet other people living andthose in transit. We had hoped to link up with voluntary working in the community and to gain new skills. We haveagencies to provide this but the current financial climate also used the volunteer bureau at Plymouth Guild to findhas left organisations without the resources to help us. more specific volunteering opportunities.Colin Stares, Trustee, and I then put together a case topresent to businesses who may be able to help as part of This year we have also been able to get some of our undertheir corporate responsibility programmes. We now have 25’s on courses run by The Princes Trust. We have hadsix staff from Lloyds TSB in Bristol on standby to help any participants on their Team Programme and have beenservice users needing support when visiting the city. We looking to engage some of our entrepreneurial youngare looking to work with Citizens for Sanctuary in London people on their Enterprise Scheme.to extend this to the capital. 33
  34. 34. The Barbican Theatre has set up a project (now entitled David Feindouno, a temporary PSW and volunteer, and I“The World At Our Feet”) under the banner of the Cultural were invited to give a lecture to third year GeographyOlympiad looking at migration to and from the city. We students at the University about the lives and experienceshave been involved with the scoping project and several of of Asylum Seekers and Refugees during the autumn termour service users have contributed their stories and ideas which was well received.to the project. I also gave a presentation to the counselling team atOutreach and presentations Plymouth Options, to give them an insight into the experiences some of their clients may bring to counselling.We put out an offer to run sessions in schools during Four of the counsellors expressed an interest in workingRefugee Week, which resulted in us running ten one-and- more closely with us.a-half hour sessions for 11-12 year olds (and staff) atPlymstock School in the week beginning 11th July. support across each week and provide cover for one now FOOD PROGRAMME Christine Reid, Trustee and Food Programme Co-ordinatorThroughout 2011, the food programme was still kept busy, Our Service Users receive a warm welcome anddistributing food supplies to those without any means of support. This know they will always have a cuppa on cold andincluded families as well as single Service Users. wet days. We have a hardworking team of volunteers on the food team and thanks asTo try and supplement the basic diet I have tried to introduce fresh always go to them for their commitment andvegetables and fruit, with a restricted budget this has not always dedication.been possible. DCRS is a customer of the food charity Devon &Cornwall Food Association and have been able to avail ourselves oftheir service, but they are still in their infancy. Each year we look toour faithful supporters for donation of goodies. 34
  35. 35. CLOTHING STORE John Jebb, Trustee and Clothing Store Co-ordinatorDuring 2011 there were 721 issues from the Good quality mens clothing and footwear are always in demand,clothing store, which continues with its usual especially small to medium sizes, and so large sizes are perhapsopening times, 10 till 1 on Mondays and best passed on to charity shops.Wednesdays, which seems sufficient for demand at Other items which find a ready home include good qualitypresent. We continue to offer bedding and kitchenware, towels, duvets and pillows. Unfortunately we cannothousehold goods as well as clothing, and we have accept electrical goods as we have no means of safety-testingbenefitted from some really excellent quality them. We always appreciate a phone call to the centre fromdonations from our supporters. donors who are uncertain as to what we can accept. INTERNET SUITE 35
  36. 36. INTERNET SUITE Ton Azzopardi, Volunteer IT Co-ordinatorOur internet suite provides a vital facility for our Service Users to Disposable medical headphone covers are used tokeep in contact with friends and family, access their own culture, promote hygiene. We have begun regularlyaccess information about living in the UK, conduct background screening information videos and these haveresearch about their asylum claims and undertake a number of already shown themselves to be extremely popularspecialist activities including both sophisticated language particularly because of the fellowship of severaleducation software using the Rosetta Stone package and a range service users being able to watch a video at once.of other office applications. The internet suite provides an As we gain approvals to show more informationimportant facility to reduce isolation, as well as promoting and other videos we envisage that this service willintegration with life in the UK, and of course direct use as a become of increasing importance to our Servicecommunications and research tool. Users.The suite of seven computers has been totally modernised during So where do we go from here? We now havethe year with all computers replaced with modern and secure quality internet suite infrastructure in place and willlaptop equipment and fast broadband access to the internet. This continue to provide and expand all of the serviceshas been made possible by a grant from the Awards for All described above. We will also look to expand theprogramme that has made a huge difference to our operations. hours that the internet suite can be accessed yetDuring the year our Service Users have accessed the suite further as there is more demand than time tothrough more than 3,250 internet sessions. Whenever the walk-in access the computers at present. Clearly this iscentre is open (5 days per week) it is rare not to find all seven contingent on finding additional volunteers tocomputers in heavy use. To regulate this we have a volunteer supervise and assist. We also plan to think aboutsupervisor on hand and manage use to a system of time slots. providing a DCRS intranet of reference information in multiple languages that Service Users canEach of the computers has Skype on it to facilitate keeping in access, particularly when they first arrive intouch by video where this is available to the asylum seekers’ family Plymouth. We will also continue to seek input fromand friends. They are all also high quality multi-media devices with our Service Users as they are best placed togood video cards and sound systems, and have qualityheadphones to aid listening to music and other local culture news continue to tell us exactly what would be most helpful to them.and entertainment. 36
  37. 37. ACT OK: A NEW INITIATIVE Martin Uglow, VolunteerAfter volunteering at DCRS for about a year, I noticed, as With the help of Paul, I collate the monthly nominations, weno doubt others have, that service users willingly help each decide on a winner, I ask the proposed winner if they areother; whether the person they help is a friend or someone comfortable with the public nature of the presentation and ifthey have never met. They may be asked or they may offer they wouldnt mind us taking their picture and displaying it.to: help interpret for someone; accompany someone to thedoctors or hospital; or, show someone where somewhere Since Act OK has been running there have been around 10is in Plymouth. Often they may just be friendly to someone winners. The first person to receive the award waswithin the centre or they may show someone new how our Mohammed Uosefi. The most recent winner was Sunilsystems work e.g. what the procedure is for using the Samarakoon. Some winners are no longer in Plymouth:internet. Waheed Jafari and Jahn Karimi. Some winners are long standing service users, others are relatively new to theI thought it would be a good idea to recognise the best of centre.these “acts of kindness” with the presentation of a T-shirtand a certificate. I sounded out a few people on how this Finally, without the regular nominations that volunteers andmight work in practice and then set about organising case workers make, this award couldnt run. So thank younominations. This involved the design of a nomination to all at DCRS for that. Keep filling in the forms and puttingform, identifying a reasonable company to print the T-shirts them in the silver box. Sometimes the box gets a littleand naming the award – Act OK. buried so be prepared to dig it out! 37
  38. 38. MY FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF PLYMOUTH Mavis Madamombe, Service User“Plymouth”, I thought when I first arrived. I did not think It is a tourist attraction with people coming to seemuch of the place. “Small town at the back of beyond” I exhibitions in the local museum to lovely walks in thethought. It seemed to me to be a ghost town with probably picturesque Dartmoor National Park.not ethnic minorities, a racist town. I was never going to fit Plymouth’s history dates back from the Roman Invasion ofin. Exeter. It was once a market town in the 13th century andSitting in that car, all those miles away from Bournemouth, was home to one of three Navy bases in Western Europe.a living, vibrant city compared to this dreary small town. I The base hosts the largest ship in the Royal Navy – HMSprayed silently “O Lord, give me strength”. To my surprise, Ocean and Trafalgar class submarines. The Navy basethere were a large number of ethnic minorities. I was was established in 1588 when the English navy set sail forintroduced to Devon and Cornwall Refugee Support, a the Spanish Armada.charitable organisation that deals with asylum seekers and Plymouth has more old people than young, most seniorrefugees. I was introduced to the Racial Equality Council, citizens choose to retire here because of it’s beautifulanother organisation that helps minorities and locals alike. landscapes and low crime rate. They find it relaxing andPlymouth might be small but it is a rich city. The people are peaceful. Plymouth has a new Life Centre that waswarm and friendly. A few bad apples are overshadowed by recently opened and will be a training centre for Lithuanianthe good ones. Like a rose bud, Plymouth bloomed to and Canadian Olympic Training as it houses a world classreveal a beautiful flower. There is more to Plymouth than I swimming pool.imagined. People are more easy-going and life moves at a I like how the city is planned; all the stores easy to findslower pace than that of bigger cities, more relaxed and without getting lost. I was even surprised to find shops thatless chaotic. sell African foods. I even found a church that suited myThe Barbican is one of the places that fascinated me. It is a spiritual needs. I feel at home in this town, that I haveplace of beauty, with lovely waters and beautiful, tranquil adopted as my second home.landscapes. It houses a lot of first class restaurants andtraditional pubs. There is something for everyone, from thetheatre to boat rides where you can see the beauty andsplendour of Plymouth. 38
  39. 39. FINANCIAL REPORTThe income and expenditure for 2011 follows this brief Once again we are deeply indebted to local individuals,report. The full, audited accounts are in a separate organisations and churches who have contributed overdocument which can be made available by application £10000 during 2011. It is a great encouragement to staff andto Devon and Cornwall Refugee Support [DCRS]. volunteers that we are supported so generously by such aThe energy expended in finding financial support from band of wellwishers. A special thank you too to our auditor,charities, social groups, churches and individuals does Routeways and the Roman Catholic bishops office whonot change from one year to the next. In raw terms we provided pro bono support for our annual report and accountsare trying to raise £80000 per annum to match the in the year.generous donation we receive from the Big Lottery We have tried to reduce expenditure in every way possible.Fund. I am pleased to report that we have achieved this We have now looked at all the providers of our utilities toagain in 2011. The measure of the task is significant in make as many savings as we can. We have moved to athat we are now the only group west of Bristol operating metered water provision, changed our telephone tariff andin the field. Refugee Action, and 2 Plymouth solicitors intend to address our electrical and printing contracts in 2012have closed in the year as a result of funding issues. when they are to be renegotiated.We are extremely grateful to charities who have In closing I would like to express my thanks to the members ofcommitted themselves to providing funding over a our fundraising and finance committee who are constantlylonger period. The Lloyds TSB Foundation, The searching for new charities to approach. They work on aLankelly Trust, Plymouth City Council and the Hilden success ratio of about 3 out of 10. In these generally difficultCharitable trust have supported us over a 3 year period financial times when even more charities are chasing evenand such commitments permit longer term financial smaller sums they have achieved considerable success, the4planning. proof of which is that because of their endeavours DCRS is. still operating after 12 years of work in the city. 39
  40. 40. INCOME AND EXPENDITURE INCOME (£) EXPENDITURE (£)Balance brought forward from 2010 29051 Staff costs 114190 Staff Expenses 218INCOME (Restricted) Rent/rates 8475The LankellyChase Foundation 10000 Allotments 61Lloyds TSB Foundation 9000 Heat, light and water 3245Hilden Charity Trust 4500 Health and Safety 29The Big Lottery Fund 87895 Equipment and Stationery 12557The Jill Franklin Trust 1000 Postage 386Awards for All 9931 Telephone and Fax 6916Plymouth City Council Sports 2895 Food Programme 7683The Allen Lane Foundation 3000 Miscellaneous expenses 620The Plymouth Cooperative Society 1000 Volunteer Expenses 1435 Training 2252INCOME (Unrestricted) Software 1660Plymouth City Council 16980 Insurance 1164Plymouth Roman Catholic Diocese 1000 Service User Relief 3569Reimbursements/miscellaneous 6012 Sports Programme 4559Investment Income 174 Repairs and Renewals 763Ige Charitable Fund 5000 Home office/solicitor travel costs 4920J. Paul Getty Junior Fund 15000 Furniture 1440General donations received 8825 Photocopier 1671 Recruitment 149 Office expenses 380TOTAL 211263 TOTAL 178342 Balance at 01/01/2012 32921 40