When an asylum seeker arrives into the country they find themselves with very little income, employment restrictions, no official language provision, and no obvious community to belong to. Asylum seekers are people who have arrived into the UK and are seeking to be officially recognised as refugees. This can be a particularly difficult time of uncertainty for those who have fled conflict, persecution and violence and must wait some time for their asylum applications to be considered by The Home Office.
Asylum seekers are left disempowered, which can last for many months, and sometimes years. The Salvation Army is committed to supporting the most vulnerable people in our communities with practical assistance and hospitality, and this includes people seeking refugee status.
Support for asylum seekers varies from community to community. Some of the support our churches offer ranges from:
- English language classes at no cost
- Safe spaces to make new friends or to enjoy a meal
- Carer and toddler groups are open to everyone
- Sunday worship
- Midweek activities such as sports sessions or intergenerational activities.
- Practical assistance through food banks and baby banks
Some of the most helpful support for asylum seekers can be found at Salvation Army centres in towns and cities where people are housed through the government’s National Asylum Support Service (NASS). In Merseyside, for example, our centre in Bootle offers free English language classes for asylum seekers and in Keighley, West Yorkshire, there is a weekly community lunch. In Huddersfield we have partnered with a local support organisation who offers a range of support including access to computer and digital services. In the South East, in Croydon and Ilford, Salvation Army churches have volunteers and staff on hand to provide a warm welcome and to signpost people needing further advice and support. Where possible we identify and provide what is needed most for asylum seekers to integrate and develop themselves and feel at home in a different society.
Our services can be accessed by directly visiting the local centres. In some areas the National Asylum Seeker Support housing providers will be able to signpost individuals to the nearest Salvation Army centre. We are always keen to build local partnerships and work together where possible.
For further information on setting up local provision for people seeking refugee status please contact our Refugee Response Co-ordinator, Major Nick Coke: firstname.lastname@example.org