I’d like to welcome you all to AFRIL’s new website. We hope that the new site, designed from scratch by Jimmy Saul, is far more engaging and user friendly than our old one and a big thank you to Jimmy for his hard work getting this site together completely on a voluntary basis (his company details are at the bottom of the site – give him some paid work if you like what you see!
In this age of hostile environments and the real pressure and hardship that refugees face the importance of positive communication is vital. We need to not only show how important the refugee experience is to the grand narratives of this country but how central this is to our own aims. Since starting here six months ago I’ve tried to ensure that our users are genuinely involved in the delivery of our services and that we use a co-production style of working.
I am immensely proud of the work that we do at AFRIL and the difference we make to the lives of those who are some of the most vulnerable in society. The staff team and volunteers (who are increasingly more and more of our service users) do an amazing job and put in hours of their time (vast majority unpaid) every week to make sure that our projects run effectively and sensitively.
Our new Helping Hands Foodbank Project, in partnership with St Peter’s Church, has, in just a few months, made a significant difference to the lives of our users who access the service. The provision of food parcels and the additional holistic wrap around provision has been vitally important. The space allows our users to learn English and practice conversations, pick up donations of clothes in the winter months and gives them the opportunity to get initial advice and information from our own staff or external agencies, which is crucial, given the merciless times we live in.
The Rainbow Club, our Supplementary School for refugee children, has grown over the years to become our flagship project. The most recent initiative that we launched linked to this has been the ESOL classes that we provide for the parents of the Syrian children who have started at the school. To have both generations learning under the same roof has been truly amazing.
Our new Act Like You Know project funded through Team London will support Youth Volunteering amongst refugee and vulnerable migrant communities. We want to support young people from a range of communities that we work in to develop skills and training opportunities.
In recent weeks we’ve been highlighting reports from Lewisham Refugee and Migrants Network and the new Know Your Rights booklets from Migrant Rights Network and we hope to develop workshops on the latter with our service users. We continue to work in partnership with Lewisham Multi Lingual Advice Service from our Leemore Centre base.
The new website is our contribution to changing the narrative and empowering those we work with and ensuring that refugees take the lead in telling their stories. We always ensure input and recognise agency.
We welcome any constructive feedback on the new site and if there are any changes you would like to see. In many ways it’s still under development but we want to see it evolve so any comments would be really helpful.
Please support AFRIL’s work by considering making a donation or giving your time as a volunteer. We can only provide our valuable services through your support, be that through hard cash or by giving your time.
General Manager, April 2018