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  • Ruth Robson

West End Refugee Services

Updated: Sep 26, 2023

What an amazing project! We are so privileged to be able to help them in their work.

"The Wellbank Foundation kindly donated £10,000 in January 2022 towards WERS Peer Information, Advice and Advocacy project.

One of WERS fundamental services is helping refugees and asylum seekers to access support for housing, health, education, welfare and legal advice via drop-in sessions at our centre. Feedback and consultation identified that clients wanted support to be more accessible and delivered by people with lived experience

- “Sometimes I don’t understand what the WERS workers say but feel embarrassed to tell them. If someone could help me that understood my language or my background, that would be more helpful” –Client 2021.

This grant supported costs of recruiting, training 8 Peer volunteers with lived experience to develop appropriate skills and deliver more meaningful Information, Advice and Advocacy support to refugees and asylum seekers and ensured the following outcomes:

• Helped minimum of 603 refugees and asylum seekers receive improved Information Advice and Advocacy.

Additional volunteers enabled WERS to deliver

o an increased number of information, advice and advocacy sessions

o support to an increased number of people

o information, advice and advocacy sessions in new venues i.e. hotels. Refugees and asylum seekers are being placed in hotels on the outskirts of the city, making it difficult for them to access support as they do not have funding to travel. WERS had established partnerships with these hotels and began outreach sessions to enable support to be brought to groups in hotels.

Some feedback from recipients:

‘WERS helped me get some food, toiletries and money because I’m not allowed anything’.

‘So wonderful to have help coming to me…I’m scared to leave the hotel'

It is really good to have someone who understands me and my language’.

‘WERS helped me get a Doctors appointment – their female volunteer did it and I was happy to talk to her…..more comfortable for me.'

‘The new volunteer helped me understand why my son could not go to that school. I had been upset about this.’

‘Thank you – so much – for your help'

A Good news case Study

Sindiso fled Zimbabwe in 2008 to seek sanctuary in the UK. He arrived in Newcastle in 2011 and came to WERS for help. He then engaged with WERS by regularly taking part in our volunteering programmes, day trips to local National Parks, gardening activities and helping with administrative tasks.

He was one of the beneficiaries of our Hardship Fund as his case had been refused and he had no right to public funds. We supported him with access to legal advice, healthcare and wellbeing support.

In 2021 Sindiso joined WERS Advisory Panel (people with lived experience who inform WERS at both strategic and operational levels). Sindiso was keen to do more, so we supported him to train as a Peer IAA volunteer. In November 2022 Sindiso was granted refugee status (very emotional news for all of us).

From Jan 2023 Sindiso became an employee of WERS as our Administrator - officially

joining our team although he had been a member of the WERS family for a long time."

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