My name is Duncan Wells and I work for the Refugee Council as the Head of Resettlement. Last week I was involved in a very special event when we launched our refugee hub in Leeds.
Aiming to bring together some of Leeds’s key refugee support charities, the Leeds refugee hub will be a vital resource for the city’s refugee communities and enable better partnership working between agencies that support them.
The idea of co-locating with other like-minded organisations has been talked about for many years. The opening of the Leeds refugee hub is therefore a very important step towards realising this vision.
Located in central Leeds, our hub will be a safe, accessible and friendly space for people to feel welcome, get rest and renew their strength. The sad truth is that a significant number of refugees and people seeking asylum will come to rely on the support of specialist local charities. Whether for help with the basics – a roof over their heads, food on the table, clothes on their back – or with their mental wellbeing, their wish to find work and to live independently.
It is therefore vital that people know what support is out there and where to find it. Our hope is that by operating as a central access point with multiple organisations being based in the same place, this will be much easier.
The name of the building that the hub is based in is called ‘Oak House’ which is apt as the oak is the tree in Britain that supports and sustains the greatest diversity of life. Leeds is the city with the most diverse population of nationalities and cultures after London. It’s something the city should celebrate and we want our hub to reflect this. We have also named our rooms after migrant birds that come to the UK, from swallows to waxwings, again to symbolise the positive contribution, diversity and colour that migrants bring to our communities.
Joining the Refugee Council’s Resettlement teams, Children’s services, Age dispute projects and HARP our friends and partner agencies based at the hub include:
– LASSN (Leeds Asylum Seeker Support Network) a charity providing a range of services including befriending, support to destitute asylum seekers and English at hoe tuition.
– City of Sanctuary, a charity promoting the UK as a place of safety and welcome for refugees
– Asylum Matters, which campaigns and advocates on behalf of refugees and people seeking asylum;
– Touchstone Connecting Opportunities project, providing a refugee employment and integration programme
– Solace, a charity providing psychotherapy and advocacy support to the survivors of persecution
– The Zimbabwe Educational Trust that supports communities into education and out of poverty
– The Alternatives to Violence Project, supporting people with handling conflict and their communication skills
The hub also hosts the new My View project which offers therapeutic counselling and youth activities to unaccompanied young people seeking asylum and is delivered in partnership with Refugee Council, British Red Cross and UpRising.
In addition to the above we have a range of rooms available to hire for local groups and organisations to use. These include 1-1 meeting rooms, training rooms of varying sizes and drop-in space. We also have office and desk space available for rent. For more information go to https://www.refugeecouncil.org.uk/leeds-venue-hire