Impact Report 16/17

published by Val Jermy

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  Registered charity no. 1013841   
Refugee Action Kingston is an independent charity, which supports refugees and asylum seekers who live, work or study in the borough of Kingston, or surrounding areas in South West London. We offer the following services:
Advice on immigration, housing, education, benefits and other core services necessary for our clients’ wellbeing.
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English language and life skills lessons for adults at a learning centre, incorporating a timebank for the exchange of skills.
Advocacy service enabling clients to better access health services.
Counselling service to support clients with mental health issues.
Information, advice and guidance to support clients into employment, training and volunteering.
Hardship fund providing emergency support to the homeless and destitute. 
Syrian refugee resettlement project.
At the finishing line of the Walk for Peace.
During 2016-17 Refugee Action Kingston (RAK) has been very successful in rising to the challenges of a fast-changing external environment. It has seen the hours of advice and advocacy support delivered increase by 68%, and it has dealt with some distressing and complex cases, in part due to a harsher policy landscape and a reduction in statutory services. RAK continues to do an amazing job in meeting increasing needs, despite the pressures on staff and volunteers and the pain for some of our clients.   

In 2016 RAK celebrated its 25th anniversary with a series of events culminating in a fundraising dinner. The celebrations highlighted how RAK continues to inspire staff, volunteers, supporters and funders.

This past year we have built on the foundations laid in previous years. We have been able to strengthen the trustee group, ensure sound finances and start on changing RAK’s legal structure to a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO). We have also recruited a new director, Fazil Kawani, who joined in August. We would like to thank his predecessor, Sanja Djeric Kane, for her outstanding contribution. 

Thank you to all the individuals and trusts who support us, enabling us to continue to support refugees and asylum seekers in Kingston and neighbouring boroughs, for another year.

Mark Kluth - Chair of Trustees
" Charity money has only one life buy if you transform it into social business money, then it become a life of eternity. "
- Muhadmmad Yunnus, 2006 Nobel Peace Prize Winner
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Engaged with supporters on social media.
Awarded the Kingston Quality Award for best practice in volunteer management.
Video produced for JCP Staff to help aid refugees into work.

494 main clients
206 partners
 clients accessed services
393 children
201 tweets
164 posts
KB, student from Sri Lanka.
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RAK is the authoritative provider of refugee related services in the borough, valued and respected
locally and a key strategic partner to RBK. We are the first port of call for statutory services seeking guidance on issues regarding refugees and asylum seekers.
RAK offers advice and information on immigration, welfare, benefits, NASS support, education, employment, utilities, health, housing and more. We listen to and support refugees and asylum seekers, speak up for them and make sure their opinions, wishes and needs are heard.
Drop in sessions are held on Wednesday and Friday mornings from  9.30am to 12.30pm. Clients can also come in for appointments at other times of the week.

Client approached RAK as an asylum seeker when she was three months pregnant and on the brink of destitution. She had no awareness of the asylum system or her entitlements and at the time was being wrongly charged by a rogue solicitor for representation. RAK referred her to a free solicitor and applied for asylum support from the Home Office to give her weekly cash payments.  RAK also applied for a Maternity Grant and public donations were collected for the baby as the mother did not have adequate funds to make the necessary arrangements. The baby had a complicated birth and has ongoing support from the Family Support Worker at Kingston Council, which RAK liaises with closely. Now that the family has been granted Refugee Status, RAK has supported them in applying for benefits and is in the process of getting an integration loan to help towards a deposit for a private rented flat.

“RAK saved my life. I will never forget you. You did everything when there was no one."

"Before I was introduced to RAK I was anxious because I didn't know where to go for answers. Since going to RAK I have got the answers I needed and I'm happy."
Finance:1636 hours
Health:568 hours
Immigration: 526 hours
237 hours
Education: 46 hours
The RAK hardship fund supports c. 400 refugees and asylum seekers each year.  It is made available to those in desperate need of money to travel to essential medical or legal appointments, to buy essential items such as nappies or food or to put credit on their phone. These small grants act as a lifeline for people during very difficult periods in their lives in the UK. 

RAK raises unrestricted funds from individual supporters and the One Percent Scheme to pay hardship fund payments to our clients.

In addition, we are also providing access to food which has been donated by local shops.

Male, refugee, aged 18-37  Asian Persian.
  The client had been living in Home Office accommodation outside of London, but due to social isolation that was worsening his mental health issues, the client moved to London to live with a friend and RAK requested for his support to be amended to subsistence-only. This caused a three months’ delay and the client relied solely on the support of the RAK hardship fund to meet his basic living needs. Client is now receiving his asylum support payments weekly.  

Female, refugee, aged 18-37 Asian Pakistani.
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Male, refugee, aged 18-37 Asian Arabic.
The client is being supported by RAK employment service and has recently managed to secure her first job interview in the UK. Payments were issued to support her with purchasing clothes for the interview and for travel.
  The client was street homeless and supported by RAK into a night shelter. The processing of the client’s benefit claim was delayed for nearly 3 months, as he was not able to provide a proof of address. RAK supported the client with money for basic living expenses and travel to appointments.  RAK also paid for travel to the RAK office for counselling appointments as the only night shelter that could accept him was in North London and he was unable to access our services without financial support for travel.
Male, refugee, aged 18-37 Asian Persian.
RAK has been commissioned by RBK to support the  refugee families who come to the borough under the RBK Syrian Vulnerable Person’s Relocation Scheme. During 2016/17 four Syrian families with five children were supported by RAK to resettle in Kingston. 

Working closely with RBK, RAK coordinates every stage of the integration process from initial housing set up, collection from the airport, introduction to services e.g. GP, dentist, school, university, Job Centre and RAK's own provision including English language lessons and counselling. 

We also organise sessional workers to introduce the family to the Kingston Refugee Group and other community groups and support them in accessing any clothes, furniture or additional food, especially during the initial settling in period, encouraging them to be more independent as time goes on.

SS was a victim of army brutality in Sri Lanka.  She was too terrified to have contact with her family and missed them terribly. Her anger and distress were making her ill. Gradually talking about her feelings and her emotional reaction to her problems helped her to have more control over them. She began to sleep better, finding ways to relax. She also gained confidence to appear in court to speak up for herself and explain her right to remain. When she received the news that her appeal had been successful she was relieved and happy. We had looked at how it would be having to go out to work, maybe live on her own and she managed the transition almost seamlessly, finding a job quickly and enjoying her new found independence. She also made contact with her family which she could only do once she knew she would not endanger them or herself by doing so. She may well find she needs further counselling in the future should she face more unhappiness but we have talked about this and she knows that counselling will help her should she find herself suffering again.

SS, female, Sri Lanka.
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Our counselling service assists people, coming to terms with trauma and loss, to cope better with the hardship of life in exile; we treat clients with PTSD, depression, anxiety, confidence issues and other mental health issues. 
We offer short term and long term therapy including one to one sessions and talking groups. Groups are helpful for clients who wish to improve their language skills and also to work on their confidence and their difficulties in expressing feelings in English. This year we have also consulted with Korean service users, with the aid of an interpreter, to establish their needs, both psychological and educational.

"I feel stronger now, I am ready to go to college."

 "I couldn’t have done without it; I’m not sure where I would have been without these sessions."  

"I found it very helpful to talk to someone outside my family about my situation."

NN, male, Afghanistan
FK, female, Iran
Male, Pakistan
Client has a degree in jewellery design from Central St Martins, London.  Client was unable to work whilst awaiting the outcome from her asylum application and was interested in a volunteering opportunity. We helped her place online applications to become a playworker in 3 local schools.  She obtained a position as a volunteer art teacher supporting 6-11 year olds. RAK supported the client with completing the DBS application and gathering appropriate forms of ID, Immigration Act 1971 Notification Letter and Photo ID Article Card. After numerous telephone conversations and a letter from RAK outlining the asylum process, the application was submitted and the client received her DBS.  RAK IAG Officer continued to advise the client, enhancing her skills in CV and cover letter writing, job application completion, interview techniques and understanding employers’ requirements. When the client was granted leave to remain and had received all her documents she soon afterwards attended two interviews with Karen Miller, for a jewellery design assistant. She was successful and became employed full time.  She then reduced her hours and, working part-time, studied for her PGCE. She now works as a primary school teacher.

Female, Iran.
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RAK aims to help its clients make a seamless transition  into employment. We provide accurate, up to date, information from which they can make informed decisions according to their individual refugee status and needs. Services include:      
"I am enjoying being in a work environment, feeling useful and meeting new people. I feel more confident."

"I’m feeling much better now and daily can feel my confidence increasing, this due to the support I have received from the RAK team." 
"It was a brilliant course."
(IELTS - International English Language Testing System).

1:1 guidance to identify a new career or retain original career. 
 Bespoke Courses: ILETS, Pre entry ESOL, Customer Service,  Health Safety & Wellbeing in the work place and Diversity.
Action Plans which map progress.
Workshops in CV writing, job application forms, interview techniques and how to find and apply for suitable employment and volunteer opportunities.
Referral to suitable further/higher educational courses and vocational training.
Recognition of qualifications gained overseas.
Advice and guidance to increase awareness of UK local and national labour market trends.
Female, Syria
Male, Pakistan
Education and training:
Female, Iraq
98% improved their English
93% improved their confidence
88% improved knowledge of local services
86% improved understanding of British culture
84% reported isolation and loneliness reduced
79% reported general health improved        
I first volunteered with RAK over a decade ago on a children’s summer play scheme. I now teach ESOL to adults. Along the way I have helped with parties, festivals, clothing days, outings, sewing, teaching art, local walks, etc. Many volunteering opportunities involving a variety of experiences and enjoyment, so never a chance of getting bored!  It has been so uplifting to meet people  whose life experiences differ from my own and appreciating how much we have in common. There is huge satisfaction from watching clients gain confidence and integrate into UK society. As a former teacher I appreciate using my skills in a positive and rewarding way. I enjoy the friendship and support of other volunteers and staff and feel part of a wonderful team. It has been a very happy and fulfilling experience. Thank you.
Barbara, Volunteer ESOL Tutor.
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The Learning Centre is funded by the Big Lottery as the Centre for Community Resilience and Engagement. The main focus is the delivery of 4 levels of ESOL classes including pre – entry provision for complete beginners with an emphasis on functional language which is practical and relevant to clients’ needs. A new literacy workshop has been added to meet the needs of those who have challenges with written English. We continue to deliver additional activities to promote wellbeing and health and opportunities to learn new skills and make friendships which in turn help to reduce social isolation. 
The programme also focusses on enabling clients to have access to information they need to use services and this year there have been health events and Money Matters events with invited speakers, stakeholders and interpreters. Clients also benefit from clothing days and seasonal/ festive events and the crèche which is available 2 days a week.
"We improved knowledge of English and learned more about the country and our rights."

AA, Kazahkstan

"Exercise class is excellent and I already recommend my friends."

NP, Sri Lanka
"I am happy to play table tennis with my friend"

HD, Vietnam

"Lessons are sometimes challenging but always rewarding"

The summer playscheme is funded by Children in Need. It targets the most recently arrived children and those facing homelessness, parents with mental health problems and poverty. It is run over 2 weeks during the summer break. 

We aim to relieve isolation and encourage children to be physically active, improve communication skills and boost confidence for the new school year in September. 

They get to know their local area better and participate in a wide range of activities which are new to them or they would not otherwise be able to afford e.g. 

             Visting central london
             Quilombo - Brazilian martial arts
             Film making
             Arts and crafts
This year's project featured a high proportion of Syrian children. One of the volunteers was a refugee child who had participated in previous years.

A driving theory class, for new and experienced drivers seeking to obtain a UK driving licence, led by one of our former clients.
A cinema club, where clients visit Amnesty International’s Welcome Cinema, to see a film for free including supper cooked by volunteers.

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A handicrafts club, where skills shared include knitting, crotchet and sewing. Using fabrics largely donated by John Lewis we’ve made a variety of items from bags and cushions to patchwork bedspreads and curtains. 
Timebank is a way for people to give their time and share their expertise to support each other. It helps clients keep active and utilise their skills, whilst waiting for permission to work.  Clients feel they are in a position to give back and be appreciated. Services offered include:
A homework club, run on Tuesdays from 4-5.30pm, primarily for primary school children, whose families often lack the literacy and numeracy  skills to support them.  
To continue to support refugees and asylum seekers in Kingston and surrounding boroughs, to enable them to lead full and independent lives as active members of our community.
Widening our  reach & impact
To expand our advice services to accommodate more clients. 
Capacity building
To  work towards changing our legal structure to a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO).

To develop and sustain the IT and communications infrastructure.

To create a marketing plan to maintain and build on our presence on social media.

To review our branding and update our website.

To develop a strategy to increase unrestricted reserves to include: fundraising events, benefiting from local donor's activities, utilisation of the Localgiving platform and partnerships with local businesses.

To source budget to provide an interpreting service at advice and counselling sessions. 
To continue to support RBK with the delivery of the integrated package for the Syrian Vunerable Persons' Relocation Scheme (SVPRS). 
To be awarded funding for the successful continuation of the ESOL and Employment projects. 
If you have been inspired by our work and would like to make a donation please click on the Localgiving logo to go to our fundraising page. 
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Additionally we would like to thank the Kingston Nursing Association.
+44 (0)20 8547 0115
Refugee Action Kingston, Siddeley House, 50 Canbury Park Road, Kingston, KT2 6LX
DESIGNED BY refugeeactionkingston-682265475209739/
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RAK has produced a separate Trustee Annual Report and Accounts. If you would like a copy, please email [email protected]
Accounts summary
Funds received:


Increase in funds held:

Funds brought forward:

Total funds held 31/03/2017

Of which:

Restricted funds:

Unrestricted funds: