Archive for May, 2016

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.