NEWSLETTER Issue 1 February 2012 7 , Whimple Street, Plymouth, PL1 2DH Tel: (01752) 265952 Fax: 0870 762 6228ForewordDear Friends and SupportersThis is the first of our new look Newsletter. We have designed it this way because our long serving Editorhas retired. In future, the Newsletter will be produced on a quarterly basis and only contain directinformation appertaining to the work that is carried out by DCRS. This will mean a much shorterNewsletter but we hope that it will still keep our supporters aware of what is going on in the world ofAsylum Seekers and Refugees in Plymouth.I would like to take this opportunity to thank publicly Geoff Read for all the work, commitment and timehe put into his Editorship and much more beyond. DCRS will miss him indeed.DCRS is going through a time of change over the next few months, with the retirement of a staff member,some Trustees and new appointments, but more of that at a later date. I can officially, however, welcomeHugh Marwick as one of our Project Support Workers (PSW). He has joined us with a wealth of experienceof work with Asylum Seekers and Refugees in another part of the country.Lorna M. SewellChair, Board of Trustees Raise money for DCRS at no cost You can now raise money for DCRS without any cost to yourself. If you register at http://www.easyfundraising.org.uk/ When you do any on-line shopping (Amazon, supermarkets, department stores are all there) you can select DCRS as your cause and then click through the site to whatever you want to buy. Every time you do this DCRS receives a little money. If we are to maintain our core services and walk-in centre, we must raise a further £30,000 between now and the end of year. Colin Stares TrusteeWe are also now registered to the national local giving campaign ( http://localgiving.com/ ) and you cansimply register there and make a donation to DCRS in minutes. We show how donations of £5, £10, £20and £100 can make a real difference to our service users, and if you want to you can donate there andthen. Do go and have a look, as well as donations, our webpage has lots of additional information aboutwhat we do. We have been told that they are running a matched funding campaign from 1 March, and soany donations made on that day (until their resources run out) will effectively be doubled before theyare given to us. What’s not to like about that!
Beginning and ending well were not detrimental to the trading routes ofI’ve always been encouraged to persevere and aim the day?to end well. It’s not always been the reality in How would he explain that in his meagreactivities or efforts I’ve made over the years but at baggage were found such costly items asthis time in 2012, I see the beginning of a new gold, frankincense and myrrh?stage in DCRS history and view the year to come. Who would have believed Joseph’s testimony that he was warned in a dream by Angels ofWe have welcomed Hugh, our newest staff the impending genocide to come tomember to replace Helen, after her successful Bethlehem, when all boys in Hebrew familiesplace on a University course. He’s got such (under the age of three) were murdered as ayouthful enthusiasm and a passionate desire to result of orders from the very king who wasmeet the needs of our service users that seeking to kill the baby Jesus?demonstrates a strong beginning to his place on The historical experiences of our services users oftenthe team. His previous experience with Refugee include such incredible statements of threats,Action, Manchester offers us the skills and insights genocide and escape routes that they too are judgednecessary to cope with the current demand from as ludicrously incredible and preposterous, as I recallservice users for our support and advice. one judge declared to a young Sudanese lad fromIt has been nearly ten years since I first joined the Darfur.staff team when the number of visitors was less, This year, I will be retiring after ten years service withbut their needs no less complicated or stressful committed colleagues and supporters. There havethan we face nowadays. The beginning of such been many individuals who have been granted leavedevelopment was a result of perseverance on the to remain despite the injustices that challenge ourpart of the Board and volunteers who stood by our resolve to persevere, but we do, with your help!commitment to go forward, as they do again atthe beginning of another year of financial Trish Baxterchallenges and political changes. Project Support WorkerThe face of Immigration policy continues to Food News !grimace with determined resolve to guard our After receiving some lovely goodies by the way ofborders from any “undeserving” entrant in order donation over these past few months, has meantto keep out everyone who cannot improve the that we have been able to top up the food parcelseconomic well-being of our United Kingdom. For with a bit of luxury for Christmas.those individuals genuinely seeking sanctuary in a We have also placed some of the donated goods insafe country, where they believe their human our office waiting area for all Service Users to be ablerights will be upheld, the immigration system can to sample that bit of extra something!become a nightmare, devoid of justice and often I also managed to purchase some fresh vegetablesdiscriminatory in its denial of credible experiencesof persecution. and fruit and these have been really well appreciated by those who received them. Again, we placed someDuring the Christmas season, I was challenged by in the waiting area to be shared by all. I feel most ofthe reality of the nativity text where we read the our ASR are in some sort of need.extraordinary historical record of Jesus’ birth andflight to Egypt to find refuge from the death Towards the end of 2011 we had a routine inspectionthreats of Herod. from the Environmental Health Officer and am pleased to say all went well. What judge would have taken the testimony of a man who had no citizenship Christine Reid in the country of asylum or believed he was Food Programme Coordinator not there for “economic gain”?Why would they grant this family refugee status,when relations across the border
First impressions DCRS sports and activitiesIts been five weeks now since I walked through DCRS sports and fitness programs have been on-the doors of DCRS as the newly-appointed project going throughout the whole of last year and Januaryworker, so its probably time to introduce myself. I 2012 has been no different. We have beenjoined Refugee Action in Manchester shortly after developing things behind the scenes and this yeargraduating from university in 2009. I stayed there looks very exciting indeed. As you know our corefor just over two years, working on the One-Stop activities include, five-a-side football on Sundays,service, the Refugee Integration and Employment gym sessions on Tuesday’s and Friday’s, monthlyService (RIES) and the Gateway protection orienteering day trips or residentials and youthprogramme. I have also volunteered at Addaction, activity sessions and day trips. We are also here toa prisoner resettlement project in Manchester help signpost you to a whole host of differentspecialising in alcohol and drug addiction issues. activities that you may be interested in, so neverIt has really been exciting to see the individually hesitate to contact us for advice or to join up in onetailored support on offer at DCRS. So many of our sessions or to help you connect with othercharities have had to scale back on this person- agencies activities.centred approach as a consequence of the ongoing We have been working hard behind the scenes tobudget cuts. For asylum seekers, this new gain funding to increase the amount of core activitieschallenge is compounded by the fact that their and to grow the number of places we can offer onaspirations and support needs have always been these activities. This year we are looking at startinggiven lower priority in UK law. From an outsiders regular swimming lessons, keep fit classes, toperspective, I can honestly say that the education, increase the number of visits to Dartmoor, as well associal and sporting opportunities on offer to improve our links with other agencies offering sportsasylum seekers here are second to none. Project in Plymouth.workers have also built excellent links with health You may or may not be aware that we initially soughtagencies, legal practitioners and community funding for these activities because we recognisedorganisations. The result is a flexible and the important link between physical and mentalresponsive source of support, operating on a wellbeing and the necessity to have a service offeringfraction of the budget available to organisations our service users the chance to engage. There haswho are funded by the UK Border Agency. been a tangible difference in many of our serviceI am hugely grateful to DCRS staff for all their user mental and physical health and we hope wesupport, guidance and trust during my first weeks have shown this difference in some of the photosas a project support worker. I would also like to from different activities throughout last year. Watchthank the many service users, volunteers and this space for new and exciting developmentstrustees who have made me feel so welcome in my throughout this year………new post. It takes a real leap of faith to take on Ellis Ransomsomeone who is unknown to the organisation and Sports and Activities Co-ordinatorI cannot stress enough how much this opportunitymeans to me, both personally and professionally . Ionly hope that I can maintain the high standards ofservice set by my colleagues and contributetowards the development of DCRS in the monthsto come.Hugh MarwickProject Support Worker
English classes in the Masiandae Centre Our ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) classes are running really well. We have a dedicated teaching team of experienced and qualified volunteers - Ali, Kira, Hana, Nataliya, Jill, Aga and George, ably co-ordinated by Sue. Other volunteers in the centre also provide one-to-one teaching alongside the other work they do. The classes attract between six and twelve participants per session. We now have classes running on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons from 1.00-Fundraising report 2.00pm. On Tuesdays and Fridays we encourageThe raising of funds to support DCRSs work is service users to participate in About Time’s ESOLbecoming more difficult. We have been quite sessions at Stoke Damerel Parish Centre.successful in gaining grants but the funding We still regularly register our service users to becharities have reduced the amounts given against students at both City College and Open Doorsour request so that more groups can be helped. International Language School. This gives theWithout exception they are telling us that the students access to formal ESOL qualifications and thenumbers of charities seeking their assistance is opportunity to study further.increasing all the time. If you personally know of From 2nd March we will also be re-launching ourfunding bodies that we could approach it would be mother and baby session where we read children’sa great help. books and sing nursery rhymes. This gives youngI am pleased to record the marvellous support we children and babies the opportunity to hear thereceive from individuals and groups from the two sounds of the English Language – essential if they arecounties and beyond. Hardly a month goes by to be able to enunciate the full range of sounds whenwhen we do not receive a gift that we are not they develop speech.expecting. It is a great source of encouragement to Jo Higsonthe trustees and staff. Training and Outreach Co-ordinatorA small number of contributors have taken outstanding orders with their banks and arecontributing on a monthly/quarterly basis. I wouldbe pleased to receive information from anyonewho might be interested in using this scheme.Finally we operate a gift aid system which Iestimate will raise nearly £1500 in any one year. Ifyou are a tax payer, have made a gift, and notcompleted a form and would like to, please let meknow.John ShinnerTrustee
Receptionist TrainingIn September last year we provided our firstReceptionists training session. As is the case in allorganisations, the receptionist position at DCRS isextremely important in ensuring the smoothrunning of the centre and it also presents ourservice users and visitors with their firstimpression of the ethos and culture they canexpect to find from all those working within theorganisation.DCRS is extremely lucky in the calibre of theirvolunteers and those that have taken on theReceptionist duties over the years have managedthis position very successfully. However, with the The feedback from the training was very positive andaddition of the new services and an increased Receptionists said they understand their role betterdemand for advice and advocacy, this role has and one said she now felt empowered. This isbecome an integral part of the collaborative fantastic and there is always a sense of relief,working relationship between all the serviceswithin the centre and in particularly the working particularly from PSWs, when a trained receptionistrelationship with the Triage person who discerns is on duty. We are so grateful that those whothe needs of those who require advice and attended the training have continued to carry outadvocacy and the Project Support Workers (PSWs) this role.who are trying to meet the demand for, and the As this was the first training session there was socomplexities of, the advice being sought. much to cover and so several important aspects ofWith the increased responsibility now falling on the Receptionists role and responsibilities were notthe Receptionists, it became obvious that specific covered in detail. We are therefore going to arrangetraining in this area was both necessary and in the near future some follow up training for existing Receptionist and also for new volunteersdesired in order that volunteers fully understand who would like to fulfil this role.their role and the expectations being placed uponthem. Pat JoyceApproximately 9 volunteers and one Trustee Project Support Workerattended the training which included, amongstmany other things: The Receptionist duties The working relationship between Receptionist, Triage and PSWs How to deal with service users presenting with challenging behaviourA Receptionist handbook was handed out to allthose who attended and a copy can be found atthe Receptionist desk for all new volunteers whohave an interest in taking on this role.