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Please sponsor the NDRC team because :

More and more refugees and asylum seekers need your support. We are one of the few organisations still offering free services, especially for immigration, and we are frequently welcoming over 80 visitors at our twice weekly Drop In sessions.

Amongst those we are supporting are vulnerable women. Our clients have often suffered imprisonment and rape in their countries of origin, and then find they are retraumatised in the UK, either by new periods in prison and/or detention, or by husbands or traffickers. They may be separated from their children. The Home Office may be refusing to renew their Leave to Remain, and the appeals we initiate may take months to process. They may or may not have a right to work but they are often homeless and largely destitute. We are able to provide counselling and where appropriate make referrals to specialist trauma therapy centres. Though the opportunities are limited we will try to find some accommodation to relieve the burden on friends. We will support their asylum process as long as it takes.

Overall we see more men than women. Cases such as that of a young Madagascan man who was the spouse of an EU national. Under EU law, even though his marriage has ended or his spouse has returned to their EU country of origin, he has a retained right to stay here. He may have worked before but now he has become destitute and can’t claim benefits. We will make an application for Indefinite Leave to Remain and then help him to access asylum support ; though these are currently slow processes.

Underpinning this advice we will offer a warm welcome in our café twice a week, with food, clothes and internet access. All our visitors can use our health service, get help with their English if they need it, and participate in creative activities such as art, drama and sewing.

Our volunteers and visitors alike say we are a ‘life-giving Centre’.

The walk sponsorship logo is now live on the home page of the website.

Thank you !

NDRC walkers in earlier years

NDRC walkers in earlier years

In Easter Week, the Marist religious community in Europe held a colloquium entitled ‘In the face of the globalisation of indifference, is there still a place for mercy ?’ I was one of about 45 participants from all over Europe, representing Notre Dame Refugee Centre.
Pope Francis has called for a re-engagement with mercy. For 3 days we explored a contemporary understanding of the world we live in, the role – if any – of mercy, and the witness to which Marists and their local communities are called. Our discussions were organised around 3 themes : dialogue, welcome and solidarity. All resonated with the work at NDRC. The following insights helped me to reconsider my approach to ‘mercy’.
Dialogue : Human relationships are open spaces and mercy means putting oneself in someone else’s place. In peace building the most important step is often the one towards the aggressor.
Welcome : hospitality is a form of creation of a new community. The Swahili term ‘ubuntu’ means ‘I exist because you exist and we exist in community’.
Solidarity : involves equalising relationships in order to achieve justice. Mercy is a tool for achieving this.
Today, working with refugees and asylum seekers often means confronting hostility more than indifference. The insights from the colloquium remind us why it’s such vital work and encourage us to keep going. I came away very grateful to the Marist community for their bountiful hospitality at the lovely Centre of La Neylière, in the Monts Lyonnais near Lyon.

Martin McAnaney SM, Don Flynn and Mark Scott speaking at the Central London reception held by the Friends of Notre Dame de France Refugee Centre

Martin McAnaney SM, Don Flynn and Mark Scott speaking at the Central London reception held by the Friends of Notre Dame de France Refugee Centre

On Friday 26th February, nearly a hundred people gathered in central London to learn more about the work of the Notre Dame Refugee Centre and listen to experts on refugee and asylum issues.  NDRC is an independent refugee and asylum organization offering welcome, support, training and advice. It is associated with Notre Dame de France Church, the French Catholic Church, just off Leicester Square.

The panel of speakers was introduced by Martin McAnaney SM, the Marist Provincial for Europe and Chair of the Centre’s trustees.  “There is so much fear around,” he said, “so many myths and scare stories, and such a lack of balanced, responsible, compassionate conversation. We have come to realise that we are a forum for such conversations, as well as doing our core job of supporting individuals and families.”

Don Flynn is the director of Migrants’ Rights Network (MRN), a network of civil society organisations working to support the rights of migrants. He helped found MRN after 30 years’ work on migration issues in law centres and as a policy officer at the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants and an immigration caseworker in London. Don says: “This is a crisis of policy, not a crisis of people. … Now we need to join in the bigger picture. The experience of organizations like this need to be projected into the public arena.”

Mark Scott is a solicitor with the law firm Bhatt Murphy, which specialises in immigration law.  Mark has successfully  represented unaccompanied children and vulnerable young adults living in the Jungle camp in Calais, and along with Citizens UK, has enabled them to join families living in the UK. Mark says, “We can’t go on going to court, just in order to make points about existing laws: governments need to take responsibility for enabling them to be implemented.”

John Walsh is a barrister specialising in immigration and asylum law at Doughty Street chambers, and appearing frequently before the Immigration and Asylum Chamber of the Upper Tribunal and First-Tier Tribunal in all areas of immigration law, including refugee, human rights, family, EEA, student, points-based system, and deportation cases.  John is a trustee of Notre Dame Refugee Centre.  John says: “We don’t need new laws, we need a sense of history, of the historical context in which these things are taking place, and an accurate interpretation of existing laws.”

Sarah Hughes is Director of the Notre Dame Refugee Centre. ‘This evening has demonstrated how many people are deeply committed to achieving respect and dignity for refugees and asylum seekers in London’ she said. ‘Our Centre has vital evidence to bring to the table and we are exploring new ways of doing this’

Members of the Art Group and some of their work, with trainer Allegra ...

Members of the Art Group and some of their work, with trainer Allegra …