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Annual Report 2015-16

Banner designed by Patrick Connellan and daughter Catrin for CRMC

Spreading the message of

PEACE & RECONCILIATION


MESSAGE FROM THE CRMC DIRECTOR

The Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre exists to welcome and meet the needs of refugees and migrants to help them settle in Coventry, to support their integration, and to encourage them to contribute to the life of the city. We are immensely proud of all we have achieved since we were established in 2000. In just the last year, we offered 10,451 appointments to more than 3,000 people facing a range of difficulties. CRMC’s values remain unchanged. We believe in empowering asylum seekers, refugees and migrants, so that they can shape their own destinies. Through our support we aim to give them a voice in the communities in which they live. To achieve that, we believe in working with

MESSAGE FROM THE BISHOP OF COVENTRY

other people and agencies locally, regionally, and nationally. We have built up a significant level of knowledge which means we can help people to overcome the barriers of the asylum system. We also try to alleviate the misery of destitution into which many asylum seekers and migrants fall, often through no fault of their own. We aim to help people rebuild their lives in safety and dignity. None of this would be possible without the team we have at the CRMC. I would like to pay tribute to the tireless work of our staff and our volunteers which allows us to provide our excellent services. This Annual Report is a testament to their dedication and expertise. Sabir Zazai, CRMC Director

CONTENTS CRMC STORY ADVICE TEAM SAFEGUARDING HOUSING VOLUNTEERING LINGO LINKS ESSAY DESTITUTION

Pages 4 & 5 Pages 6 & 7 Pages 8 & 9 Pages 10 & 11 Pages 12 & 13 Pages 14 & 15 Pages 16-19 Pages 20 & 21

WORK & WELL-BEING THERAPY SERVICES IMMIGRATION & ASYLUM LAW ESOL SYRIAN RESETTLEMENT PROGRAMME CRMC FINANCES

Pages 22 & 23 Pages 24 & 25 Pages 26 & 27 Pages 28 & 29 Pages 30 & 31 Pages 31 & 32

This Annual Report is published by the Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre, 15-16 Bishop Street, Coventry CV1 1HU. Phone: 02476 227254. Email: info@covrefugee.org 2

CRMC ANNUAL REPORT

It has become commonplace to say that guarding women from exploitation, and Europe is experiencing its most extreme much more – the CRMC brings healing movements in people searching for refuge and hope to hundreds of refugees and and security since the Second World migrants from across the world. War. The benefit to these vulnerable people is The catastrophic war in Syria alone has self-evident. Victims of the world’s wars, caused the equivalent of more than the poverty and injustice can live in dignity and population of Wales to seek sanctuary. with a future. The benefit to Coventry is Many other parts of the world are mired more hidden but equally real. In the words in conflict, and their peoples are at great of a Kurdish refugee I met recently: “I don’t risk unless they flee their homes. Somejust want to receive. I want to give”. times, when the headlines flash across our CRMC gives people the sort of lift that newspapers and TVs, a sense enables them to take a full part The CRMC of despair sets in. What can be brings healing in society, contributing to the done in the face of suffering on and hope to common good. We all become such a scale? beneficiaries of the gifts and hundreds of The Coventry Refugee and skills of those who come to us. refugees and The benefit to everyone who Migrant Centre reminds us that migrants behind each statistic is a life, a supports the Centre is also person, a family, and it also shows that the transformative. We are given the chance people of Coventry – a city that knows the to make a difference to one life at a time, trauma of war and that stands for peace and so demonstrate that one of the major and reconciliation – are doing something crises in the world today can be faced by practical and precious for many of those ordinary people who care and act with whose lives are torn apart by conflict. compassion and love. In an extraordinary range of ways – from It is an honour to be Patron of the Covlanguage tuition to job hunting; from helpentry Refugee and Migrant Centre and to ing with the benefits system to providing commend its work and this impressive therapy to people who have seen some of Annual Report to you. the worst conditions of human life; from The Rt Revd Dr Christopher Cocksworth, giving men a chance to meet, to safeBishop of Coventry and Patron of CRMC CRMC ANNUAL REPORT

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THE CRMC STORY

PENNY’S VISION LAUNCHED CHARITY It was back in 1998-99 that what is now the Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre came into existence. The volunteers who started it all off were aiming to help refugees who were then coming to the UK and Coventry mostly from Kosovo and Bosnia which were being torn apart by the civil wars in the Balkans. And people were fleeing continuing violence in Afghanistan. Since those early beginnings, the need has grown. The CRMC, now with a staff of 35 and more than 80 volunteers, helps some 350 people a week from 70 different countries. But it all started when local campaigner Penny Walker, who had launched the Peace House in Stoney Stanton Road, and a number of her colleagues, realised there was a gap in the treatment of newcomers to the city. “It was a question of people arriving, and others not knowing how to help them,” she said. “The refugees themselves didn’t know where to go for help.” The Midland Refugee Centre in Birming4

THE CRMC STORY Flashback Thhkjh to January when the Afghan father and son cyclists met Sabir Zazai (centre back) and members of the Coventry Afghan community at the CRMC offices

Prestige events raise

profile of Centre

When Afghan father and son Nadir Shah Nangarhari and Feruz Khan passed through the Midlands in January on a cycling marathon from their home country to Scotland, they naturally called in at the CRMC to meet members of Coventry’s Afghan community. The pair were crossing 12 countries with a message calling for peace in Afghanistan, and they knew how important the CRMC is among newly-arrived communities in the region. And CRMC Director Sabir Zazai who is himself Afghan, said:

“It was inspiring to meet them, and fitting they should call in to the city of Peace and Reconciliation.” The CRMC’s profile has been rising in the past year, thanks to the invitations Sabir has had to speak at prestigious events. He addressed MPs in Westminster Hall, and conferences in Ireland and Istanbul. He said :”It’s an honour to talk about the welcome Coventry gives newcomers. People are very interested in how the CRMC works with the city council and others to help people build new lives in the city.”

ham had an office in Coventry, and Penny went along to volunteer. “There was just one paid worker, and no volunteers. I offered to recruit more volunteers and we got a team going,” said Penny. “There was no support from the Birmingham office, and we volunteers decided we must set up our own refugee centre. We didn’t know much, but we knew more than other people.” The team found an office at St Peter’s

community centre in Hillfields, and the Coventry Refugee Centre, as it was then called, opened on April 1, 2000. “We had no money, but one of the volunteers offered to pay the rent for the first six months. For a whole year it was staffed by volunteers, but we opened every weekday from 9am to 5pm.” The centre expanded quickly and won a grant for two part-time employees. By the time Penny left in 2003, there were 30

CRMC ANNUAL REPORT

CRMC ANNUAL REPORT

Why the Centre has to do more with less The CRMC has had one of the most challenging years in its history. In 2015-16 the Centre had to cope with a 22 per cent cut in its grant from Coventry City Council, just as the demand for its services was rising sharply. Director Sabir Zazai said that although the city was receiving 15 per cent more asylum seekers, he had to make seven posts redundant and the remaining staff members had to go on to reduced hours. “They went from 36 to 30 hours a week from December to March,” he said. “I was paying them less, but they still did the same level of work.” Nevertheless, some services had to be cut back, but Sabir said: “We responded well to the challenge to do more with less.” And he added: “We understand the council is under pressure, and we continue to be grateful to them for investing in us, and in our dedicated team.” paid workers, and then the charity moved to Bishop Street. Penny praised the support she received: “There have always been lots of caring people in Coventry, professionals and non professionals who welcome refugees. But there has also been a huge need for more understanding.” Sabir Zazai said: “I’d like to pay a huge tribute to Penny. Without her pioneering work the CRMC would not be here today.” 5


ADVICE TEAM

FIRST POINT OF CONTACT READY TO DEAL WITH

EXPERTS OFFERING The Advice Team is the first point of contact at the CRMC and we can refer clients to specialist teams and services. Our clients come to us with a huge range of problems. Some are very serious, involving the risk of substantial harm (see case study). Many clients have difficulties with the Home Office. We help with asylum claims and the submission of further representations; we refer clients to specialist lawyers; we try to co-ordinate their asylum cases and the support they need. Many of our clients have the right to be in the UK, and we give them a lot of benefits and housing advice. An important area is the specialist advice we give on asylum support. We see our work with destitute people as particularly important. For many migrants, the safety net of the welfare state is simply not there, and there are many clients with complicated physical and mental health problems living on the street. But the issues we face are as diverse as our clients. We were once asked for advice on starting a power generation company, and we were able to help!

CASE STUDY

Saida is a single woman from Africa who has been in the UK for some time and is still working on her case with the Home Office. She is in late pregnancy, but it is a multiple pregnancy and there are complications. Because of the regulations on support for people in her position she was not able to access the Home Office’s specialist support for asylum seekers until the very latest stages of her pregnancy. At a time when she most needed support and some kind of stability, and having to go to hospital and to other health services constantly to monitor her pregnancy, she was destitute and facing life on the street – surviving only by sofa surfing with members of her community. We were able to make a case based on

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It is a pleasure to see clients progress from being asylum seekers to finding jobs, entering education, even starting businesses. We offer advice and help at every stage of that journey. We could not do that without our large CRMC ANNUAL REPORT

ADVICE TEAM

SPECIALIST HELP

...and how our work benefits Coventry

How we could help pregnant Saida who was facing destitution

Committed and skilled volunteers help our clients Whether it is getting support for a client, helping with their case, sorting out their health entitlements, their integration needs, their employment or their businesses, we contribute to the well-being of newcomers and to their futures in the UK.

ANYTHING FROM AN ASYLUM CLAIM TO DESTITUTION

Gordon Sparkes, Esther Portela Miranda and Dimitri Kafizas of the Advice Team

her circumstances to the Home Office, and eventually we were able to get her into support. Her case was just one where we were able to make a difference. We have many clients from the EU and from long established Afro-Caribbean and Asian communities. We have clients with visas, including students, and we also get British people who have been affected by migration in one way or another. We have built up considerable experience and knowledge over 15 years and we give quality advice and support to all our clients. On issues of support and integration, we are the migration experts.

make vital progress

number of committed and skilled volunteers who come from every background. Volunteering with us has helped many people into paid work, and the CRMC has itself been able to offer employment opportunities. CRMC ANNUAL REPORT

Being committed to getting people off the streets, we help clients get out of destitution, and support those experiencing it. This reduces the number rough sleeping and the physical and mental health problems that go with that. This benefits the client, reduces the burden on other services and improves the quality of life for us all. Our clients come from many different cultures. Arriving here and trying to integrate can be challenging and stressful. With no other specialist services in the region, the immigration, support, health, employment and housing issues they bring to us, would not be dealt with. We take pressure off clients, their communities, and other services in Coventry.

THE YEAR IN FIGURES

5000 1500 30 % 25 %

FACE-TO-FACE APPOINTMENTS WITH CLIENTS

THE NUMBER OF CLIENTS WE HAD

HAD PROBLEMS WITH THE HOME OFFICE

THOSE WHO HAD PROBLEMS WITH BENEFITS

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SAFEGUARDING UNIT

TEAM PROMOTES THE PROTECTION AND

The benefits system is complicated. Vulnerable people don’t always know what they are entitled to – and even when they do, they need help with claims. For clients who don’t speak English this is extremely challenging as the application forms for all benefits are significantly long and require some knowledge of how things operate in the UK. It can be especially difficult if the client has no National Insurance number and no bank account – and many of our clients don’t. We support vulnerable clients with a oneto-one casework structure, allowing us to accompany them to local banks and the Job Centre. Clients, such as Mina in our case study, who are granted refugee status, are also expected to leave their UK Border Agency accommodation. This means that without support they would become homeless. We support clients who have just received leave to remain in the country by helping them into sheltered accommodation, or hostels, or in to one of our own housing units. Helping people who have been granted refugee status is just one aspect of our work. We also support victims of trafficking, victims of domestic violence, clients with mental health problems, and families and

WE AIM TO PEOPLE MOST IN Cassie Adjei and Zaher Majidi are in the team supporting vulnerable people

young people in need; we liaise with GPs, community health practitioners and our in-house therapeutics services. We provide food and clothes to the destitute. We help clients find legal representation to regularise their stay in the UK. We teach English and provide clients with the knowledge to access services and to keep themselves safe. Last, but by no means least, we facilitate a Men’s Group, a Women’s Group and our Befriending Project.

Offering a helping hand for the most needy

We help our clients become less socially •We increase their ability to find other •isolated, thereby increasing their resilience. sources of support through signposting, We help them integrate into life in the UK and to forge social bridges. We provide them with a safe place to go and something to eat if they are destitute.

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referrals and information sessions. We help them to find solicitors who can apply for them to regularise their stay in the UK.

CRMC ANNUAL REPORT

WELFARE OF THE MOST VULNERABLE

PROTECT WHO ARE DANGER CASE STUDY

Traumatised Mina facing destitution Mina came to us last July. She had lost her husband through suicide which her 15-year-old son had witnessed. She wished to move out of their property as it had painful memories. We helped her find a new home and applied for housing benefit to cover rent arrears. We had her tax credits amended and helped her get a bereavement allowance. We are now applying for income support. We organised free counselling for her son at CRMC, thanks to funding through the Clinical Commissioning Group. The client has also secured her own funding for counselling. We have made her aware of leisure courses which could take her mind off her difficulties. And in view of what the family has endured, we took part in a Common Assessment Framework meeting at the child’s school. This is a continuing process and our contribution is vital. CRMC ANNUAL REPORT

SAFEGUARDING UNIT

...and how our work benefits Coventry Thanks to the continuing one-to-one support we give people going through very serious difficulties, the Safeguarding Unit picks up early on mental or physical health problems clients may be suffering from. That means less strain later, on the statutory services in Coventry. And because of our work with destitute asylum seekers, EU migrants and refugees, we help bring about a reduction of destitution and, as a result, there are fewer people living in poverty on the city’s streets. That also relieves some of the strain on statutory authorities. And we are continuing to learn how best to support the homeless and are working with decision-makers to ensure policies are implemented in the best way possible, thus providing value for money for council tax payers.

THE YEAR IN FIGURES

1369 260 5200 4 in 5

APPOINTMENTS WE GAVE TO....... CLIENTS, 5% OF WHOM WERE DESTITUTE MEALS GIVEN OUT WITH PARTNERS AS-SUFFA CLIENTS COULDN’T HAVE ACCESSED SERVICES WITHOUT CRMC 9


HOUSING PROJECT

WORKING TO PREVENT PEOPLE FALLING

HELPING HAND FOR CASE STUDY

Massey Kharati, Hannah Laing and Toni Soni who run the CRMC’s Housing Project

Being homeless is tough. The life expectancy of a rough sleeper is only 45, compared to 75 for the general population. Our clients can find themselves homeless for a number of reasons. People whose pleas for leave to stay in the UK are turned down, lose support and are not able to work. Ironically, people who are granted leave to remain also lose support and are expected to make fresh benefit claims or find work. Both tasks can be difficult for newcomers, and refugees can find themselves in difficulties waiting for benefits or work to come through. Living on the street can create a whole raft of difficulties. Rough sleepers are at

THE HOMELESS

We put Imran on the

...and how our work road to independence benefits Coventry

Suffering from severe mental health and dependency issues, Imran lost his tenancy and ended up sleeping rough in Coventry. He has a long history of non-engagement with services and was detained under the Mental Health Act. While he was detained in hospital our Housing Officer continued to support him, establishing a good rapport . After his release we provided him with emergency accommodation and support to end his rough sleeping and to try to settle him in a secure environment. Now he takes his medication regularly,

and he believes that without the help of the CRMC he would still be sleeping rough, and at risk from further physical and mental ill-health. Small but realistic goals have been achieved, he accepts the interventions offered to him, and he completes the tasks asked of him to work towards independent living. He lived in our supported housing for seven months and moved on to independent accommodation with floating support from the CRMC. He is now doing well.

risk of injury and health problems including pneumonia, TB and hypothermia. People become disengaged from the rest of society with possibly disastrous results for their social, financial and mental well-being – and to make matters worse, government cuts are affecting services for vulnerable people, including rough sleepers.

We support homeless refugees and migrants by offering suitable accommodation and support. We advocate on their behalf and get their voices heard when access to relevant services is difficult, We also use our extensive knowledge of our clients’ needs to try to prevent problems arising in the first place.

How needs of the most vulnerable are being met by

expert CRMC staff

Feedback from our residents tells us that most feel that their needs for support have been addressed. They also feel that that could only have been achieved with the support of CRMC staff. Most report that the quality of their lives

they say they understand better both their entitlements, and what is expected of them. Because we work with hard-toengage communities, vulnerable people with complicated problems can access the crucial services they need.

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HOUSING PROJECT

INTO A LIFE ON THE STREETS

has improved: 95 per cent of our residents tell us they feel secure and stable; 90 per cent feel they have integrated well into the wider community, and 85 per cent feel that their health needs are being met. Most feel less depressed or anxious and CRMC ANNUAL REPORT

CRMC ANNUAL REPORT

Investing in preventing homelessness and tackling the needs of people who are facing life on the streets reduces the burden on public funds. Homeless people are at risk of serious physical and mental ill-health, and also at risk of falling into crime. Addressing needs early and offering appropriate support reduces hospital admissions, prevents crime, and reduces tenancy failures, all of which could end up costing the public more in the longer term. We are also continuing to learn how best to support the homeless, working with decision-makers to ensure policies are implemented in the best way possible.

THE YEAR IN FIGURES

150 100 80 % 97 %

THE NUMBER OF HOMELESS PEOPLE WE SAW THE NUMBER WE HOUSED IN OUR ACCOMMODATION OF RESIDENTS HELPED INTO WORK OR TRAINING HAVE ACHIEVED INDEPENDENT LIVING 11


VOLUNTEERING

PEOPLE GENEROUS WITH THEIR TIME

WORKING FOR FREE MARTA’S STORY

Marta Paulo, working and being useful

Marta Paulo is a trained educational psychologist who came to Coventry from her native Portugal when her husband landed a job as a lecturer at Coventry University. And having volunteered in Portugal and in Angola, it was natural for her to do the same here. “I like to do voluntary work. It’s like a passion for me,” said 31-year-old Marta. “I want to be useful, I didn’t want to be at home doing nothing.” Marta found out about the CRMC through a colleague of her husband and started volunteering by helping Lingo Links, the Centre’s translation service, with administrative work. Then last June she was asked to join the Centre’s therapy services as a part-time member of staff. She said: “I was very excited, it was a great opportunity for me. I don’t work directly with clients, but I work with the administration, making appointments, and working with psychologists.” Things got even better for Marta in October last year when another part-time 12

KEEP THE CHARITY’S SERVICES RUNNING

IS SO REWARDING ALVARO’S STORY

PORTIA’S STORY

Job placement proved

to be life-changing

Portia Antwi’s work placement at the CRMC was life-changing. Portia (right), had the placement as part of a Coventry University social work course. She said: “It’s been amazing. I never thought there were places like this, where people can just come in and get help. It doesn’t cost anything, you can come in and discuss your problems, get help, even have a meal. “When you work with asylum seekers and refugees you realise the struggle they have to go through just to get here. Then comes the shock of the new system, the new way of life, the language. You realise

how difficult it is for them.” Portia’s stint included being on the frontline advice team ready to help people walking in off the street, and dealing with vulnerable people. Trying to help people in extreme need is a challenge and Portia said: “You need a lot of resilience. It takes a lot out of you. It’s really hard.” Would she recommend volunteering at the CRMC to others? “Absolutely! This centre is what it is because of volunteers.”

opportunity came up with Lingo Links, which means she is now effectively a fulltime employee. She said: “I am very happy because in a year I am already working in the UK. I am useful, and my colleagues are very nice. It’s really good to work here. It’s

THE YEAR IN FIGURES

70

1200 6

VOLUNTEERING

THE NUMBER OF ACTIVE VOLUNTEERS THE NUMBER OF HOURS THEY CONTRIBUTED THE NUMBER OF VOLUNTEERS WHO BECAME EMPLOYEES CRMC ANNUAL REPORT

perfect for me.” Eventually Marta wants to work as an educational psychologist again, and she said: “It would be amazing if I could do that here, but I am still learning how to work in the UK.”

AND HOW YOU CAN HELP There are many ways of volunteering: Offering advice, befriending, helping to teach English, helping with admin or using professional skills. To help, just.... PHONE: 02476 227254 EMAIL: info@covrefugee.org CALL AT: 15/16 Bishop Street, CV1 1HU. LOG ON TO: covrefugee.org CRMC ANNUAL REPORT

Alvaro Grana at the CRMC’s Men’s Group

Tuesday afternoon is the highlight of the week for the 30 or so men who gather for the CRMC’s Men’s Group. They can forget about the hardships of being a refugee or asylum-seeker, if only for a few hours. They can play pool or table tennis, or just talk. Alvaro Grana ran the club for about seven years until he decided last year to take more of a back seat. The 70-year-old Peruvian is himself a former refugee. He had to flee when the government changed and opponents started disappearing. As he had been working on reforms under the previous government, he feared he would be targeted. In Coventry he was helped to settle and rebuild his career, and after retirement he wanted to put something back – as a CRMC volunteer. He started the group and it developed slowly as word spread. Now, often, the men don’t want to leave. He said: “We work for their well-being. Maybe we can help them, but our main job is to befriend them. If all we can be is a listening ear, then that is what we will be.” 13


LINGO LINKS

SOCIAL ENTERPRISE BUILDS BRIDGES AND

WE OVERCOME THE LANGUAGE BARRIER

Lingo Links provides high-quality, value-for-money interpreting and translation services to individuals, third sector organisations, local government and companies in the West Midlands, in more than 60 languages. We also help CRMC clients to access services such as those provided by the Citizens Advice Bureau, and to get support before their problems reach crisis point. Thanks to the service Lingo Links provides, we can help people in difficulties from developing further problems like becoming homeless. From our own monitoring, we know that vulnerable people in Coventry are likely to stay engaged with services, such as Recovery from Addiction, if they have a consistent interpreter. What’s the scale of the task? Latest figures show that for some 30 per cent of primary school pupils in Coventry, English is the second or third language.

Marc-Philliph Hollasch: Helping the community by running the Lingo Links service

While not all the families of those children are our clients, or need any help at all, the figure does suggest that Coventry is living up to its global reputation as the City of Peace and Reconciliation by providing a sanctuary for people in need. And statistics also show that women of ethnic minority origin are particularly at risk of unemployment and poverty – and that is often linked to a lack of English skills.

Making people feel confident, and more at home Helping people access the help and the services they need is only part of what Lingo Links does. There are many other less obvious ways in which we benefit people and the wider community. For example, 65 per cent of our clients reported that being able to cross the language barrier with our assistance had 14

helped them feel more at home in their adopted community. Clients have also reported a boost to their confidence. That has helped them interact with members of other communities in Coventry – and that, in turn, has had a positive impact on social cohesion and integration in the city. CRMC ANNUAL REPORT

INTEGRATION – AND REINVESTS ITS ‘PROFITS’ CASE STUDY

Ali grateful for help which took him from refugee to employee In 2014, Ali, a practising solicitor in Syria, made the hard decision to apply to the UN Refugee Agency for help to leave his war-torn country after losing his entire family. Once he was granted refugee status and allowed to settle in Coventry, Ali approached Lingo Links and impressed with his exceptional language skills and legal knowledge. After completing the application process and vetting, he was taken on as a linguist.

Stella Nowotarska who helps run Lingo Links

Ali is now integrated into the labour market and often interprets for others who hope to make Coventry their new home. In his spare time Ali is a volunteer Arabic teacher and he has been accepted on a course that will eventually permit him to practise law in the UK. He said: “I have so much to be thankful for. Earning money working for Lingo Links allows me to continue my education and to live as a productive member of my new community with dignity.” CRMC ANNUAL REPORT

LINGO LINKS

THE YEAR IN FIGURES

97 % 95 %

OF CLIENTS RATE OUR SERVICES AS EXCELLENT OF CLIENTS SAY OUR LINGUISTS ARE RELIABLE

13 %

OF OUR LINGUISTS WERE GIVEN THEIR FIRST JOB BY US

2014

LINGO LINKS VOTED WEST MIDLANDS SOCIAL ENTERPRISE OF THE YEAR

...and how our work benefits Coventry Lingo Links creates jobs – and by integrating our linguists into the labour market, we help empower them to gain financial independence and cut their reliance on benefits. Linguists support students and teaching staff to overcome the language barrier. This fosters integration from an early stage and also helps boost the students’ academic performance. As a social enterprise, Lingo Links re-invests the “profits” it makes in the CRMC. The money goes towards the charity’s Destitution Fund which supports homeless people. The success of Lingo Links not only helps the homeless, it also allows the CRMC to be slightly less dependent on public money. 15


ESSAY It is fair to say that 2015 has been a challenging year for all of us working with, or concerned about, the situation of millions of people who have been forced to flee their homes as a result of conflict, human rights abuses and poverty. As images of those on the move have filled our TV screens, newspapers and our Facebook and Twitter feeds, many of us have felt increasingly frustrated and powerless to respond to the seeming inability and unwillingness of politicians and policy makers in the UK and across Europe to do something, anything, to address the needs of the men, women and children who have left behind their homes and families in search of protection and an opportunity to make a livelihood. The reasons for increased migration across the Mediterranean into Europe are clear. The conflict in Syria, which started in 2011, has escalated over the past five years, drawing in countries in and outside the region and has been closely associated with the rise of so-called Islamic State. More than 12 million Syrians have been forced to leave their homes. Even if they can avoid the violence, those who remain in Syria are at risk of becoming ill, malnourished, abused, or exploited. Millions of children have been forced to quit school. The future looks bleak with no sign of a ceasefire. Those who have been displaced for years within the country and have been waiting for the conflict to end so they could return to their homes are starting to give up hope. They are looking for alternatives for themselves and their children. But Syria is not the only country in which 16

ESSAY

WE CAN FIND A WAY TO HELP THE MILLIONS SEEKING SAFETY By HEAVEN CRAWLEY Professor of International Migration, Coventry University

there is conflict and human rights abuse. Apart from Syrians, most of those who are arriving in Greece now are refugees from Afghanistan and Iraq. In Italy the countries from which people travel are more diverse – Eritrea, Nigeria, Somalia, Gambia, Mali and Senegal – but the conditions that they leave behind are equally difficult. Human Rights Watch has described the CRMC ANNUAL REPORT

Demonstrators in Coventry city centre with the message that this is the city of Peace and Reconciliation

situation in Eritrea as “dismal”. In Nigeria, the militant insurgent group Boko Haram has killed civilians, abducted women and girls, forcefully conscripted young men and boys, and destroyed homes and schools, displacing hundreds of thousands of people. Many more leave hoping to find work and pull themselves out of poverty. At the same time, border controls have made it increasingly difficult for those in need of protection to enter another country legally. And until you have entered a country that is a signatory to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, you cannot claim asylum. For most people this CRMC ANNUAL REPORT

means that the only way to escape is by using a smuggler or trafficker. The risks are high and so are the costs. Most refugees have to sell their homes and all their possessions to pay for the journey across the sea. And not everyone makes it. According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), nearly 4,000 people died in 2015 crossing the Mediterranean from Libya to Italy, or when making the short crossing across the Aegean from Turkey to the Greek islands. This is almost certainly an underestimate. All of this can make us feel overwhelmed. What can we do to stop the war in Syria; continued on next page 17


ESSAY

ESSAY

Getting involved could be a

life-changing experience

continued from previous page the persecution of minority groups; the poverty that leads desperate people to sell everything in the hope of a better life? How can we persuade our politicians, who apparently ignore this humanitarian crisis, to take a longer term and global perspective, to look beyond their short-term political interests? What can we do to influence the public debate about migration when sometimes we can’t even persuade our family and friends that the things they read in the press often represent one, oversimplified aspect of the situation, or are simply untrue? The fact is that all of us can do something. The Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre provides not only a beacon of hope to those newly arrived in the city, but a way for all of us to make a difference. This Annual Report is impressive but it reflects only a small proportion of what goes on at the Centre. Many refugees have experienced incredible pain and loss. The Centre offers support, a listening ear, counselling through art and other therapeutic interventions, but it also offers hope – a feeling that there are people who care. For many people this can be as important as the provision of services. And it is important to recognise that the services provided by CRMC do not only support refugees and migrants but also the people of Coventry. Immigration controls have become an increasingly per18

It all helps: Clockwise from top left, volunteers with CRMC; the Marginson family raised £1,342 for the Toy Appeal was a big success, and volunteers from

Muslim group Assuffa feed the homeless at the Destitution Fund with a cycle marathon; the CRMC Santander bank painted the Centre’s offices

vasive part of all our lives at a time when more and more of us are on the move for work, to study or to join family members elsewhere. An increasing proportion of the work of the CRMC is with those whose lives have been affected by these controls in ways that they had not expected or prepared for. That includes people who are British citizens or who have been living in the country for many years. So what can you and I do? First and foremost we should remember

that every one of us can make a difference. If you have time or resources, however limited, you can volunteer with the CRMC or make a donation. Volunteering is vital for delivering support and services but it also provides an opportunity for the volunteers themselves to gain experience and a different perspective on their own lives. As a volunteer you can, for example, befriend a family that has arrived in Coventry through the resettlement programme. In the past year I have met many Syrians

CRMC ANNUAL REPORT

CRMC ANNUAL REPORT

struggling to rebuild their lives here. Sometimes one of the most important things you can offer is friendship, but you also know what it’s like to live in Coventry which can be indispensable to someone trying to settle in to a new life. This is not a one-way process. There is much for us to learn from new arrivals who have skills and knowledge often ignored by politicians and the media. If you run a business you might be able to offer a work placement to help someone gain experience and prepare for a new job. Finally, we can take the time to educate ourselves and challenge the hostile representation of refugees and migrants that we see around us. Sometimes this can be difficult – we are worried about getting into an argument or offending others. But at this time of increasingly negative public attitudes, all of us have an important role to play in reminding others that most people only leave their homes and everything they know and love because they have no choice. And most would return if they could. Coventry is a resilient city, but none of us should underestimate the challenges ahead. The CRMC plays an invaluable role, and I am delighted to have been able to work with the Centre in the past year. I would urge you to get involved, to share your expertise and to support the work of the Centre as much as you possibly can. It could be a life-changing experience not only for someone trying to rebuild their life in the city, but also for you. 19


DESTITUTION

HELPING PEOPLE WHO HAVE

FUND IS A LIFELINE CRMC clients face an immigration and support system which is really not designed to help them. The charity’s Destitution Fund is an important resource for trying to put things right, explains GORDON SPARKES

A young man from Syria escaped the war there and made it to England, hoping to claim asylum. That’s something that one might think is easy – as easy as walking into a police station, or perhaps the local Home Office Reporting Centre. It’s far from easy. Asylum seekers must first make contact with the Home Office. An official will take contact details and phone back in a few days with an appointment with a UK Border Agency office in Croydon where asylum applications must be made. Unfortunately for the young Syrian, he didn’t have a phone, and couldn’t afford one, so the Home Office couldn’t call back. The Syrians he was staying with were asylum seekers themselves and had no money to help him out. The whole process was stalemated from the start, simply because of the lack of a phone. A simple payment of £10 from our Destitution Fund enabled him to buy one and the very next day he was back at the CRMC where we made contact with the Home Office for him, and he now has his appointment to claim asylum. 20

FOR THE DESPERATE DESTITUTION FUND: A LITTLE GOES A LONG WAY £5 buys a food parcel with enough food for five meals, or toiletries for one person to last a month. £10 buys 2 food parcels, enough to feed a person for a week. £25 buys food for 1 person for 2 weeks, or travel to attend a UKBA meeting in Croyden. £50 buys enough food for 50 meals. £150 buys food and necessities for a destitute family for a month.

CASE STUDY 1

But that’s far from the end of the story. Once the young Syrian claims asylum the Home Office support process will be open to him and he will be eligible for accommodation and money support. Until then there is no support structure in place. None at all. In Coventry we have the amazing resource of the Peace House, and our asylum seeker can sleep there if they have the space. But he has meals and other needs, and the Destitution Fund makes a contribution in terms of vouchers for food, and mobile phone credit: Communication is

Hundreds of people face Hundreds of people are destitute in Coventry at any one time and the problem is growing, said Sabir Zazai, CRMC Director. “Being destitute is one of the worst states to be in – not knowing where you can spend the night, what you’re going to

CRMC ANNUAL REPORT

DESTITUTION

BEEN LEFT WITH NOTHING

hugely important for newcomers. The CRMC has good contacts with food banks, and we hold donated food and toiletries which we can give our destitute clients. This helps them make a contribution if they are staying with friends who may not have much themselves. Equally importantly, transport to the asylum interview is costly, and is something we often need to pay for from the Destitution Fund. Sometimes we need to fund a family to travel to Croydon, and the bill can be considerable.

destitution in Coventry

eat, who you can talk to,” he said. “We come across people in that situation where there’s very little we can do. We need the help of the generous people of Coventry to give these people hope and support so they can rebuild their lives in safety and dignity.”

CRMC ANNUAL REPORT

CASE STUDY 2 A young woman from the Middle East had come to England through a number of European countries. There were some very unusual features to her history and her case, and because of her particular circumstances it was difficult to find any agency prepared to support her. As an exception we decided to use the Destitution Fund to pay for overnight accommodation for her. The next day we were able to place her in support elsewhere. In her case, as in so many, the Destitution Fund made a difference. Every day we come up against new situations in which the system is really not there for our clients. It can be rigid, inflexible and merciless. Having a discretionary fund which can meet the novel and challenging circumstances our clients present us with, is a crucial resource. Without it, we would be forced to stand by and watch as our clients endured the vagaries of a system which often seems so indifferent to them.

HOW YOU CAN HELP To make a donation to the CRMC Destitution Fund please PHONE 02476 227254; EMAIL info@covrefugee.org or go to www.covrefugee.org All donations of money, food, toiletries and clothes go straight to destitute people in Coventry. 21


WORK AND WELL-BEING

HOW WE ENCOURAGE PEOPLE ALONG

THE CHALLENGE OF FINDING a job is a priority for our many of our clients, but it can be a serious challenge. Why? Language skills: A functional level of English is essential. It is rare for a client to find a job within his or her own community. And if that did happen, other issues of vulnerability and possible exploitation could emerge. Saleable skills/limited ambition: Migrants can have difficulty presenting their skills and experience in a way that UK employers recognise. This can be because they are unfamiliar with UK career structures, or because they have gone through less formal training. They may be qualified but don’t have the certificates to prove it. Factors like these lead, all too often, to

David London offering work advice to a client

the idea – expressed by employers, official agencies, and even the clients themselves – that they are only fit for a warehouse job (male), or to be a cleaner (female). Understanding employment culture: Attitudes surrounding job-hunting are complex and vary widely, even within Europe. How to present oneself, language skills,

CASE STUDY

For Francis, success means never giving up Francis came to us, disappointed that he could not find a good job quickly. We helped with his CV and assured him that he was doing the right things: volunteering, to gain experience, and taking English and maths classes. But we warned him that it was a tough job market. After a few months Francis found a labouring job but difficulties over pay and costs of travel caused him to leave. He found work as a food packer but the night shift caused family problems and on his days off he searched for work, 22

cold-calling at employers’ premises. Perseverance paid off and Francis found a temporary production job, but he was still looking for that secure post that would suit him better. He applied for four jobs with better prospects, including one at Jaguar Land-Rover. Encouraged by the CRMC, Francis got an interview and impressed with his perseverance and determination to improve his skills. Francis is very grateful to the CRMC, but we insist that the success is his. CRMC ANNUAL REPORT

THAT VITAL JOURNEY TO EMPLOYMENT

WORK AND WELL-BEING

JOB-HUNTING

and decoding advertisements, all rest on understanding what employers are looking for – an understanding that migrants may not have. Lack of UK work history: Being unable to provide evidence of past employment can be a bar to any job offer. So how do we help? Initial interview: We establish what the client expects and try to manage their expectations in line with the employment market. We make clear what we can do. Help with CV: Writing a CV can be difficult for someone unfamiliar with the culture and language. Our staff understand the problems migrants face. Referral for English language teaching: On offer in Coventry includes our own in-house classes delivered by City of Sanctuary, plus colleges, adult services, the Jesus Army Centre, and other voluntary groups. And ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) for work is a 10-week in-house programme which aims to build a vocabulary suitable for the workplace. Drop-in jobsearch: Short-term support, including internet access, is on offer at the CRMC on Tuesday afternoons. Realistic encouragement: We don’t pretend to have easy answers, but we do believe in encouraging activity; that volunteering builds employability; that any job is a good first job in the UK, and that it is the client’s own efforts that will achieve employment. CRMC ANNUAL REPORT

THE YEAR IN FIGURES

147 614 510

THE NUMBER OF CLIENTS WE SAW NUMBER OF 1-TO-1 APPOINTMENTS WE GAVE THE JOB APPLICATIONS WE SUPPORTED IN LAST SIX MONTHS

...and how our work benefits Coventry Our employment support gets people into the labour market quickly, and prevents frustration and the temptation to give up. Our support prevents clients falling into hardship and homelessness, reducing pressure on local services. Every client who achieves employment is a step towards integration, and clients with jobs encourage other members of their community – demonstrating a potential way into employment. Employment promotes integration, it adds value to the local economy, and saves money since people no longer depend on welfare. For the client, a meaningful job reduces the risk of mental and physical illhealth and allows them to play a fuller role in the community. 23


THERAPY SERVICES

HELPING PEOPLE WHO HAVE

THE MENTAL SCARS CASE STUDY

The team tackling traumas: Georgia Jaji, Marta Paulo and Luda Ruddock

We support asylum seekers, refugees and migrants experiencing mental ill-health as a result of war, violence, abuse, persecution or disaster in their home countries. People who have been through those traumatic experiences often suffer further during their flight to safety – and again go through difficulties settling in when they reach their new host community. Our clients might be experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder, stress, depression, anxiety, obsessive-compuslive disorders, phobias, and psychoses. They may have a sense of bereavement for those they have left behind. Insomnia is common as are alcohol and drug misuse, and relationship problems. Our Wellbeing/Therapy Services’ multidisciplinary team provides emotional and mental health and well-being services which are unique to this region. We offer a variety of multi-cultural specialist interventions approved by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), such as person-centred counselling, psychodynamic therapy and art therapy, 24

ENDURED TERRIBLE TRAUMAS

TAKE TIME TO HEAL

Survivor Filiz is helped

on road to recovery

Having experienced extreme deprivation, harassment, physical and sexual abuse in her home country and during her journey to safety, Filiz was withdrawn and depressed. She stopped eating and lost a lot of weight. She was referred to us by her GP and at first she was very tearful and difficult to engage. It took time to show her how sharing her thoughts and feelings could be helpful in relieving her anxiety, her sense of loss and grief over losing her

family, and the shame she felt because of abuse. With the help of psycho-education around trauma, and the development of coping strategies and achievable goals – managing panic attacks for example, Filiz gradually became more confident. She started English classes at the CRMC, joined the Women’s Group and was able to come off anti-depressants half way through her sessions.

all supported if necessary by qualified interpreters. We also offer teaching through thematic lectures, seminars and workshops, consultation on such things as trauma, health promotion, and psycho-social services, and placement opportunities. Our team has understanding, experience, skills, cultural and linguistic sensitivity embedded into our operations, as well as an

Our clients’ verdicts on

On better emotional and mental health: “Sleeping a bit better also not so angry, feeling more calm”. On developing an enhanced sense of confidence: “I have experienced changes and I now feel better to move on and I feel that I CRMC ANNUAL REPORT

THERAPY SERVICES

holistic approach to ensuring our clients’ wellbeing. The aim is to help clients deal with their inner wounds, to promote a sense of security and stability, and a sense of identity and belonging. We try to promote integration, personal and professional development, and an overall sense of well-being.

services we provide

can cope with my problems and manage in a better way”. On better communication in relationships and re-engagement with activities, and with growing ambitions: “Made me think positively, also realize that there is a future ahead”. CRMC ANNUAL REPORT

...and how our work benefits Coventry Our services lead to better community health, well-being and resilience and provide new opportunities to provide integrated and co-ordinated services. Our holistic approach reduces the burden on the National Health Service, social care services and public health funding. We promote a sense of identity and belonging and support effective integration by encouraging clients to engage with the wider community by volunteering, helping out at school, sharing knowledge, skills and experience. Grateful clients are keen to help others by “giving something back” to the host community.

THE YEAR IN FIGURES

37 1300 62 % 62 %

AVERAGE NUMBER OF CLIENTS WE SAW EACH MONTH THERAPEUTIC SESSIONS HELD IN 2015 AND... FELT EMOTIONAL WELL-BEING HAD IMPROVED FELT BETTER ABLE TO DEAL WITH THEIR PROBLEMS 25


IMMIGRATION/ASYLUM LAW

TEAM SPECIALISES IN UNTANGLING

HELP TO CLEAR THE CASE STUDY

Hazel King and Jaz Thapar, ready to help

Anyone from outside the EU wanting to enter or remain in the UK can face a formidable set of barriers. And the barriers are even more difficult to clear for someone arriving as an asylum seeker with no papers and little, if any, English. The Immigration and Asylum Law unit at the CRMC provides confidential and independent specialist advice and representation for people in that situation. But their remit is wider than that. The team has extensive knowledge and experience of helping clients caught up in a wide range of difficulties with Home Office regulations. They help people applying to be reuinted with their families; students trying to enter the country or stay here, and people seeking to have their spouses or dependent relatives join them in the UK. They help people with travel documents, and with helping them apply for British nationality. They help with immigration for business purposes and they even help people with name changes. And that’s just a flavour of a long and im26

THE HOME OFFICE RED TAPE

BARRIERS TO ENTRY

Trevor rescued when

disaster struck

Trevor came to the UK in the 1960s from Jamaica with his mother. He was just five years old. He went to school here and later worked here. All his family were in the UK. He married in the UK and all his children live here. But disaster struck when his documents were stolen and suddenly he was left with no proof that he was allowed to stay in the UK. He could not demonstrate that he was entitled to work, and couldn’t even claim benefits.

He then received a letter on behalf of the Home Office questioning his entitlement to stay in the country. Trevor contacted the CRMC for help, and the Immigration and Asylum Law team was able to advise and represent him. Detailed submissions were made on his behalf and eventually the Home Office accepted that he had permanent residence in the UK. Trevor now has a settled future here, and evidence to prove that he has right of residence. He can now demonstrate that he can work here legitimately.

pressive list of tasks that the unit’s team of two can handle. In charge is Jaz Thapar, a qualified solicitor who specialises in immigration and family law. She has lectured on the subject and she has also been featured on the BBC and local media, offering advice on immigration matters. She is fluent in Punjabi, Hindi and Urdu.

Jaz’s colleague Hazel King is a qualified immigration advisor. She has worked at the CRMC for 14 years, building up a wealth of knowledge in all the areas of support offered by the Centre to migrants and refugees. Hazel has much in-depth experience of dealing with vulnerable clients and complicated casework.

Weekly clinic’s invaluable

advice is free

We offer a free weekly drop-in legal clinic at the Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre every Wednesday from 11am to 1.30pm. All are welcome to attend for free advice on any immigration, asylum or European

legal issue. The clinic has proved a very popular part of the department’s work with a great amount of interest every week. We are further happy to provide free initial appointments for those who are unable to attend the clinic.

CRMC ANNUAL REPORT

IMMIGRATION/ASYLUM LAW

CRMC ANNUAL REPORT

...and how our work benefits Coventry

We work on behalf of a number of local authorities supporting destitute clients who have no recourse to public funds. If we can regularise clients’ right to stay in the UK, that allows them to work legally and to be less of a burden on the public purse. We charge for our services (although they are free for people in real need) and the money we make is reinvested into the CRMC. We provide a free legal clinic and initial appointments so that people can get the advice they need to abide by immigration requirements. And we train volunteers to develop transferable skills which enables them to go on to find paid employment.

THE YEAR IN FIGURES

340 60 % 35 %

APPROX NUMBER OF CLIENTS WE SAW IN 2015 WERE RETURNING CLIENTS WERE NEW CLIENTS URGED TO COME BY FRIENDS OR AN ORGANISATION 27


ESOL

VOLUNTEER TEAM OFFERS ENGLISH CLASSES

TEACHERS POINT THE THE VOLUNTEER

TO FILL THE GAP LEFT BY MAINSTREAM COLLEGES

WAY TO A NEW LIFE THE STUDENT

Nicky helps students realise their ambitions Sarah Frankland, the ESOL organiser

The demand on Sarah Frankland and her team of volunteers grows constantly. They are the people who help newcomers to Coventry learn English through an ESOL (English for speakers of other languages) programme at the CRMC. Sarah measures the demand by the waiting lists she has. She said: “No sooner have we cleared one list than another appears.” Sarah, who organises the programme and is a volunteer herself, runs 10 classes a week, each of two hours. The students come with various levels of ability in English, but most are beginners. “We had one class of 22, which was a bit much,” said Sarah. “If we have a class of 14, that’s a good size.” She says the demand is not being met by statutory authorities or by the mainstream colleges, but her volunteers are filling the gap. She has 20 volunteers, including herself, and half are qualified teachers. The others include a librarian, an engineer and a worker at the Cathedral, who work as classroom assistants. 28

Nicky Francis was a marketing manager looking for a change of direction. She retrained as a teacher and, looking for teaching practise, came across the CRMC and the ESOL courses being run there, on the internet. “It was a good way of combining getting some teaching practise and doing voluntary work, and it’s been lovely,” she said. Nicky who lives in Dunchurch, works with Sarah Frankland’s team one day a week, focusing on the improvers class. She said of her students: “They are very keen and eager, and grateful. They give 100 per cent. The ones I have had since

She has a couple of couples on her team and two people who hold Phds. “We get a good mixture of people volunteering, all kindly people, and some travel distances to help here. One person comes from Stratford.” Sarah thinks people have been spurred to help by media coverage of the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean. “We’ve had a teacher with young children, and we’ve had part-timers coming in to help in their spare time. People are more aware of the need. They ring up and say ‘I’ve read about this, how can I help?’” “The volunteers are enthusiastic, reliable, cheerful people, and it is a great privilege CRMC ANNUAL REPORT

ESOL

Hosein dreaming of a brighter future

Nicky Francis with Hosein Taghizadeh, one of the students in her improvers class

September have come a long way, and it’s very satisfying.” She said they all had ambitions – whether it was to go to college, work in a hospital, or be a taxi driver. And she added: “I am here to facilitate that – to help them get somewhere.” to be able to match the needs of the migrants with the skills and enthusiasm of the volunteers.” Because of the service they offer, Sarah and her team can be the first port of call for newcomers looking for help. “We had someone who was homeless,” said Sarah. “We were able to find them accommodation through the CRMC. But the teachers do get upset sometimes. There are intractable problems you can’t deal with.” But the positives keep them going: Above all, the attitude of the students who want to learn, knowing that mastering English is the first step on the journey to a new life. CRMC ANNUAL REPORT

Hosein Taghizadeh, 30, fled to the UK from Iran in 2009 after falling foul of the regime, and came to Coventry last October. He arrived in the country with no English, and his first application for asylum was turned down. Undeterred, he tried again, and in the meantime bought an English text book and taught himself the basics. Now he’s in Nicky Francis’s improvers’ class and working hard to get on. “I want to study. In this country, everything is available to do,” he said. And as for his future, he’s hoping he can become an interpreter, a nurse, or perhaps even a lawyer. He said: “I know it’s difficult but I want to try.”

THE YEAR IN FIGURES

598 855 20

STUDENTS IN SUMMER TERM 2015 STUDENTS IN AUTUMN TERM 2015 NUMBER OF VOLUNTEERS ON THE PROGRAMME 29


SYRIAN RESETTLEMENT PROGRAMME The Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre is proud to be one of the partner agencies for the Syrian Resettlement Programme in Coventry. We are hugely grateful to Coventry City Council and the city leaders for taking a lead role in responding to the plight of refugees fleeing the atrocities of the war in Syria that has claimed 400,000 lives and displaced millions. In Coventry we have been able, thanks to the City Council, to establish a partnership between Citizens’ Advice Coventry, Cov-

SYRIAN RESETTLEMENT PROGRAMME

At the forefront of a

mission to help

entry Law Centre and ourselves, to offer Syrian refugees a warm welcome and help to start rebuilding their lives and play an active role in the life of our city. Due to the nature of the conflict, and the horrendous journeys they make in search of safety, Syrian refugees are particularly vulnerable. Some have severe medical problems, and others struggle to overcome the mental scars of the conflict, and may need longer-term support.

The CRMC has two full-time members of staff and one part-timer, dedicated to the programme and working with the partner agencies to support newly-arrived Syrians with setting up home, dealing with utilities, schooling, health, and other basic needs. To date, the programme has welcomed and supported 190 Syrians, and the number is rising. The city has also welcomed 30 Afghan interpreters who served with the armed forces in Afghanistan, and their

LUCKY ONES FIND A ABDUL looks every inch the lawyer he once was. Wearing a black suit and opennecked shirt, the 44-year-old smiles and talks easily in near-perfect English about life in Syria. Now safe in Coventry, thanks to the government’s Syrian Resettlement Programme, the stories he tells of his homeland are horrific: Stories of random arrests, of people disappearing, of murder. Normal life in Syria started unravelling as the civil war took hold in 2011. And as the violence escalated and the regime clamped down harder on dissent, Abdul (not his real name) found himself at risk. He said: “They were arresting people randomly. I started supporting arrested people and I became under observation from the regime. They were tracking people. “A friend told me to leave. He said: ‘I am afraid, maybe they arrest you or kill you’. It happened to another lawyer. A car stopped him, someone got out and shot him.”

30

Abdul and his family were in the city of Homs which was the scene of a major battle between the Syrian military and opposition forces in 2011 to 2014. Entire neighbourhoods were shelled, virtually to destruction. After the opposition forces withdrew, U.N. CRMC ANNUAL REPORT

families. We thank our partners and the people of Coventry for their generosity and their support. We have had many kind offers of help, from volunteering to donations of clothing, even housing. This underpins our city’s legacy of Peace and Reconciliation and shows we are a caring and welcoming community. We welcome the government’s response to the refugee crisis, but we believe that the UK could and should do more to help people fleeing the conflict. Sabir Zazai, CRMC Director

SAFE HAVEN IN CITY Flashback to last year when the Bishop of Coventry hosted a special reception to welcome the first Syrian refugees to arrive in the city

Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said he had received “grisly reports” of government forces executing, imprisoning and torturing people in the devastated city. Abdul and his family were lucky. They managed to get out of the city and fled to Damascus, and from there made their way CRMC ANNUAL REPORT

to Jordan. Thanks to his fluent English, Abdul was able to find work with aid organisations there as an interpreter. And then out of the blue, UNHCR, the United Nations’ refugee agency, offered him an escape route to a new life. His was one of the 500 families to be given leave to enter Britain. “Coming to the UK was beyond a dream for me. I thought it was impossible. We were very, very lucky.” He, his wife and three children are getting used to a normal and safe family life in Coventry and Abdul is already working as an interpreter. He said: “I am trying my best to do anything. I am so grateful to this country and everybody here.” 31


CRMC FINANCES & GOVERNANCE

CRMC FINANCES & GOVERNANCE

THANKS TO ALL THE PEOPLE WE RELY ON The Coventry Refugee and Migrant Centre benefits from the governance and leadership of the 14 members of the Board of Directors. The Board plays a hugely important role in strategic planning, decision making and overseeing the finances of the charity. In addition to the Board, the charity also has at its disposal the knowledge and expertise of six Charity members who have skills in key areas such as human resources, finance, the law, fundraising and refugee rights which are called upon in moving forward key decisions. The Board and Charity members are volunteers and offer their expertise free of charge. At the CRMC we are immensely indebted to every one of them for the commitment and invaluable support they offer to the important work we do with newly-arrived communities in Coventry. The Centre has 35 paid members of staff and 87 volunteers who between them speak about 60 different languages. Our staff team is highly skilled: 54 per cent of our staff have a bachelor degree, 41 per cent have a master’s qualification, and 61 per cent have other post-secondary qualifications. Two of our colleagues have PhDs. The organisation relies on the goodwill and generosity of our staff, volunteers and friends. Without their commitment we 32

WHERE CRMC GETS ITS MONEY ......... AND WHERE IT’S SPENT

Public funds

Grants from trusts & donors

Social enterprise

Vulnerable Persons Relocation

Public funds Grants from trusts & donors Social enterprise Vulnerable Persons Relocation

Noory Ahmad and Ilona Brezezicka at the CRMC reception desk in Bishop Street – the first port of call for people in need of help

would not be able to deliver the range of innovative services and projects aimed at newly-arrived groups that we do, and we would not be able to help with integrating those groups into our communities. For example, Lingolinks, our social enterprise, has 300 registered Interpreters who have an understanding of many different languages and cultures. This allows us at the CRMC to help other service providers in Coventry and further afield to overcome language barriers when working with newly-arrived people. Our Board members, Charity members, volunteers, staff and interpreters enable us to offer essential support services to people from more than 70 countries. We would like to say a special thank you to all of them, and encourage others to join the CRMC family. CRMC ANNUAL REPORT

49.7% 11.0% 34.70% 4.60%

The full finance report is on the Charity Commission website at www.gov.uk/government/organisations/charity-commission

Governance

Social enterprise

Housing Work

Therapy services Safeguarding

Advice

Immigration

Governance Social enterprise Housing Therapy services Immigration Work & well-being Safeguarding Advice

1.20% 14.30% 32.80% 2.90% 3.90% 9.15% 16.05% 19.70%

ROLL OF HONOUR: CRMC FUNDERS, FRIENDS AND PARTNERS FUNDERS Coventry City Council Tudor Trust Awards for All Coventry and Rugby CCG LankellyChase Foundation (until Feb 2015) NHS England (Aug 2015 - Mar 2016) Quakers Trust The 29th May 1961 Charitable Trust Virgin Care

FRIENDS & PARTNERS Assuffa; BBC CWR; British Red Cross; British Refugee Council; Broad Street Meeting Hall; CARAG; Carriers of Hope; City of Sanctuary; Citizens’ Advice Bureau; Coventry and Warwickshire CDA; Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership Trust; Crisis; Coventry Diocese; Coventry Law Centre; Coventry University, Centre for Trust Peace and Social Relations. DOST; EGO Performance; Emmaus; Enactus Warwick; Entraide UK; Foleshill Children’s CRMC ANNUAL REPORT

Centre; Foleshill Women’s Training; Freedom from Torture. Governance International; Grapevine; Hillfields’ Children Centre; Midland Heart Housing Association; National Asylum Support Agency; Orbit Housing Association; Positive Youth Foundation; Pret A Manger; Quakers Trust; Refugee Action; Radio Plus; RightStep; Roma Project; The Challenge. The Digbeth Trust; The Children’s Society; The Highlife Centre; The Meridian Practice; The Peace House; The Testimony Project; Trussel Trust; UNA Warwick and District; University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire; UNHCR; Voluntary Action Coventry; Valley House; Warwickshire Social Services (Asylum Team); West Midlands Migrant Health Network; Warwick University; West Midlands Police; Westwood church; Wolverhampton Refugee and Migrant Centre; Workers’ Educational Association. 33


Banner designed by Patrick Connellan and daughter Catrin for CRMC

15-16 Bishop Street, Coventry CV1 1HU. 02476 227254 info@covrefugee.org Find us at covrefugee.org Edited and designed by Charles Barker (ac.barker51@gmail.com); printed by Buy My Print, 27-31 Westwood Road, Coventry CV5 6GF

CRMC Annual Report 2016  
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