This month we caught up with Chris Keating, Director of Services at Kings Arms Project in Bedfordshire. It is one of the newest NACCOM Members, but has been providing support and accommodation to those facing homelessness since 1989, and supports around 500 homeless and vulnerable people every year.
How do you accommodate and support asylum seekers, refugees or other migrants?
We are supporting families who have come to Bedfordshire through the Syrian Resettlement Programme, and alongside working with other services in the area we have one employed Refugee Support Co-ordinator whose primary job is to support the families, help them to settle and move their lives forward. We do not provide housing for these families that we are working with as they have been offered Assured Shorthold Tenancies by the Council. Through our Nightshelter we can accommodate some clients without a British Citizenship but due to our contract can no longer accept any individuals with No Recourse to Public Funds (NRPF). Our Rough Sleepers Outreach Worker has a lot of contact with Migrants with NRPF and we have recently put in a bid for a NRPF Worker to directly support these individuals.
What are the biggest challenges you’re facing at the moment?
At present one of our biggest challenges is meeting the ever changing needs in our locality. The rough sleeper count in Bedfordshire has doubled to ~51 and half of those have NRPF. We are desperate to work with those individuals who cannot access other services and find ways to help them to make a success of their lives despite their current situations.
Can you give any highlights over the last few months?
We have recently accepted our first three families through the Syrian Resettlement Programme and everything is going well with their support. They are settling well, building relationships with neighbours and working hard with their English studies. We’ve found them to be incredibly resilient thus far. We are also beginning to advise the Councils in our local area about other arising needs and potential solutions that we could bring.
How did you find out about NACCOM, and is there anything specific we can help you with at this time?
We became aware of NACCOM through our recent work with refugees. At present we’d love to learn more from others who have been working with refugees for a longer time. All wisdom is well received!