We want to update you on what AFRIL has been doing to support our clients through this period of lockdown as a result of Covid-19.
We have been supporting 85 asylum seeking, refugee, and vulnerable migrant families through this crisis.
“Thanks so much for your care and humanity shown to us in our trying times. May God richly bless you and Afril always.” – James
AFRIL clients already experience social isolation and poverty; our clients often live in very cramped and insecure accommodation, with whole families living in one room. They often experience poor mental and physical health as a result of their experiences in their country of origin, on their journeys to the UK, and as a result of the poverty and lack of access to services in the UK. Being subject to immigration control restricts access to services and support: some clients cannot access the NHS for free, others are in exploitative and insecure work; some are banned from working, and many are not able to access mainstream homeless shelters, foodbanks, or other services. Many of the other services our clients would access are closed, and so they find themselves with nowhere to turn, and reduced access to food, emotional support, and advice.
“Thank you so much for bringing the smile back to my kids face, thanks, they are so happy, thank, God bless you all” – Mary
We have managed to put in place services to support all of our clients at this time, working with existing partners and supporters in the community, and reaching out to build and engage in new networks. Our team calls, texts, and emails our clients every week, speaking to them about the best ways to meet their changing needs; organising practical support, and working to resolve longer-term problems around access to housing, benefits, and support.
“Thank you all for all your lovely support you have been giving me and my children since I got to know AFRIL and took AFRIL as my family.Thanks a lot and stay blessed.” – Omobola
We have expanded our Helping Hands Foodbank offer to all clients who access AFRIL services. We support our clients in two ways:
- For those clients who are able to leave the house, we provide cash payments – this supports their autonomy and independence.
- For those who cannot leave the house, due to self-isolation, underlying health issues, or other issues, we have linked up with a number of foodbanks to support them. For clients with some form of status such as refugee status, we are able to help them access local foodbanks, building partnerships to ensure that we can maximise the effectiveness of the local community. For those with no leave to remain, we have linked up with local mutual aid groups and coronavirus projects to provide access to food parcels.
We also help clients in crisis who cannot access what they need, sourcing things like pajamas, nappies, and baby milk.
“Just received the nappies for children as well! Much appreciate your all hard work! Be safe!! Thank you so much!” – Sonya
Our Rainbow Club Supplementary School has moved to remote learning. We regularly post out individually tailored education packs to 70 children to help them to keep learning. Our arts and sports teachers have provided activities to help families trapped in small rooms to keep active and to maintain their wellbeing. The Rainbow Club also helps clients to access their rights in terms of free school meal vouchers, and resolve other issues with schools.
“On behalf of myself ‘n kids we say thank you so much for your love and concern always.”
Our Advice and Advocacy Service is working with clients to support them to overcome their complex problems accessing housing and financial support, and to help them with progressing their asylum and immigration claims. We have continued to provide assistance remotely, and have seen progress in a number of cases. This work is crucial to help people to navigate changes in government policy due to Covid-19.
“Thank you so much i appreciate you ‘n the team ma. Stay safe ma”
We will continue to work with our clients to ensure that we meet changing and emerging need at this difficult time.
If you need support
If you have leave to remain in the UK, a good first step is the local borough Covid-19 response. Lewisham Local have provided incredible support to a number of our clients, and we are proud to be working with them. Their resource includes helpful, up to date information on how to access free food across the borough.
If you are worried about accessing support due to your immigration status, or other issues, please contact us.
Solidarity with our clients
Our clients have told us that they feel very isolated and afraid right now. Part of our work is to support this vulnerable and marginalised group has been to help them build social networks and feel more connected to each other and the community; this is a crucial first step in resolving more complex issues relating to emotional wellbeing. Under lockdown, often stuck in a single room with their children, struggling to make ends meet and uncertain about the future, solidarity from the community is more important than ever. We are delighted that volunteers have been sharing messages with clients. If you want to share a message, please get in touch with Helen, our Foodbank manager on firstname.lastname@example.org
Supporting our work
Working to help our clients over this difficult time means that AFRIL needs your support more than ever. If you are able to donate, please do so here.