It was great to meet our newest Associate Member, Refugee Support Devon, at the recent hosting conference in London. We took a few moments over lunch to find out more about their work and their plans for the future.
‘Tell us about your project..’
Refugee Support Devon was set up in 2001 as part of accommodation supported by the Home Office. Exeter was a dispersal city for Afghanis that came during the crisis there. Then that stopped and Exeter was no longer a dispersal city, but people continued to come to us and ask for support, so our work continued and the charity expanded.
We have different projects- for example we give £10 a week to people that don’t have access to any public support and are facing destitution. We also have a drop in service twice a week where we have volunteers to help people with support such as drafting letters or help to find a solicitor. We also run a computer class and we have a schools project (where one of our volunteers raises awareness in schools about refugees in Devon and what they go through).
We also have an allotment, so sometimes we get fresh food for the drop in where people can come and help themselves, and we provide one to one English lessons which are very vital for many people. We have a team of over 60 volunteers.
‘How did you hear about NACCOM?’
Accommodation is an issue, especially in Exeter, and we have had a few cases where no accommodation has been available to people for various reasons. So I started searching to find what is out there that maybe people could tap into, and found NACCOM and thought this would be a really good way to connect with other organisations.
‘What are your plans with accommodation in your area?’
Exeter is a very expensive place to live, so if you have no recourse to public funds and you are not vulnerable enough to get statutory support, then it is very difficult to find accommodation. We’ve been in touch with Night Stop (Depaul) to see if they would like to set something up locally, and so I came today to find out more about hosting so I can report back and see how things go.