Why is there a supermarket trolley at the back of St Mary's?Gail Spencer writes:-
NNRF can only afford to give the 140 failed asylum seekers who have nothing else to live on – £2.50 and a bag of groceries.
If you want to see for yourself, NNRU welcomes you on Saturday morning when its premises The Square Centre Alfred Street North are open to distribute food, to provide hot drinks and often hot food and a place where people can meet for friendship, help with learning English and survival.
While our supermarket trolley can provide non-perishables, the NNRU does purchase from donations fresh food (bread, eggs, fruit and vegetables too).
Your donation makes a difference.
Tea or coffee
Breakfast cereal particularly porridge
UHT fruit juice
Other tinned vegetables, particularly sweet corn, chickpeas, lentils
Tinned meat or fish
Toiletries (inc sanitary products)
Two of us visited the Forum on a Saturday morning to find out what goes on and to see how our gifts are used.
We were warmly welcomed and pleased to be able to talk to some of the volunteers including the coordinator of the women’s group. 85% of the asylum seekers who come to the forum are men. There is now a group meeting on Friday mornings to give women an opportunity to socialise and to see an advice worker. All who use the centre are encouraged to volunteer to help there in the kitchen, organising events or producing the newsletter.
There is a large bright room where asylum seekers were arriving for a hot meal and to receive a selection of food including our donations. It is also a time for conversation, playing games or using the computers which have been donated.
The food items most popular among the refugees are:
Tinned vegetables, baked beans, chick peas, pilchards, sardines, fruit; tea, coffee, sugar, rice, pasta, UHT milk, fruit juice, cordials, rice pudding, custard, jam, peanut butter, cereals, biscuits, sauces, cooking oil
(Soup, mushy peas and spaghetti are not useful).
Toiletries and sanitary products are very useful. Tesco and Asda sell cheap toothbrushes and toothpaste.
Clothing for children and babies would be appreciated as would kitchen utensils, dictionaries, playing cards and games which could help in learning English; also radios and cassette players (second hand, but all in good condition).
DESTITUTE IN NOTTINGHAM
Even though we may moan about it, an increase of a few pence on some of our treats doesn’t really stop us from enjoying life. Yet, as we treat ourselves to weekends away, a drink with friends or an evening out, there are among us, in Nottingham, people living on £2.50 and two bags of groceries each week.
Imagine what it must be like to flee war, persecution or violence - maybe to see your loved ones tortured or killed – to abandon your home, family, job, friends and all your possessions, taking only fear with you across unknown countries, often not knowing where you are going. The journey is difficult and dangerous, but you hope for peace and the chance to build a life and use your skills at the end.
Of course you have no official travel papers – you haven’t been able to ask the forces that you fled for a passport. Sadly, this often means that, once you arrive in a “safe country”, your story is not believed. Your access to legal help is negligible. Your application for asylum is refused, and you are called a “failed asylum seeker”.
In the UK, failed asylum seekers receive no income of any kind: no money, no housing, no medical care except in emergencies. By law, they are forbidden to work. Even night shelters are not available to them. They are totally thrown on the goodwill of others. They often ask for, and receive, help from their own communities, which are themselves impoverished and overcrowded. Many cannot return to their countries of origin – they face arrest, torture or worse, and maybe the country will not accept them back; others refuse to return to a war zone such as Congo or Sudan.
In Nottingham, there are people such as Mr A, who fled persecution in the Sudan and was later joined by his teenaged son. Children have the right to support, but only if their parents give them up to Social Services. Like any of us, Mr A cannot do this, so neither he nor his son receive any support from official sources. Ms B was raped while fleeing from war, and since being refused refugee status has sometimes had to sleep on the streets in Nottingham.
Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Refugee Forum is a local charity, working with and for asylum seekers and refugees. The support given by NNRF to these people is usually all that stands between them and total destitution. Currently, about 140 failed asylum seekers come to NNRF for support, but NNRF can only afford to give each one £2.50 and some groceries per week. This is all paid for by voluntary contributions given by people of good heart. However, the demands made on NNRF’s funds by even such miserly provision are overwhelming, due to the large number of people supported, and there is constant fear that even this small help will have to be curtailed. NNRF will continue the support while it is necessary and at all possible, but in order to do this, more people of good heart are urgently sought to make one-off or regular donations.
To find out more, please see NNRF’s website: www.nottsrefugeeforum.org.uk . Cheques can be made out to “Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Refugee Forum” and sent to: Treasurer, NNRF, The Square Centre, Alfred Street North, Nottingham, NG3 1AA. Enquiries and requests for Gift Aid forms to 0115 9415599. Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Refugee Forum is registered charity no. 1086962.
There is much concern about the idea of stopping English language classes particularly when the Audit Commission said that teaching immigrants (whether economic/asylum seeker/refugee) was the single most helpful thing to do for integration into the community. See the link: http://www.audit-commission.gov.uk/reports/PRESS-RELEASE.asp?CategoryID=PRESS-CENTRE&ProdID=DF980C1A-725E-4E1B-88D0-8A0626353785.