food parcels provided
It is estimated that 16,000 refugees live in the Borough. Southwark also houses one of London’s 2 temporary accommodation centres for asylum seekers, and residents there often use our centres. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, our client population was increasing each year. Nowadays, we also work with Southwark to help house and integrate Afghan and Ukrainian families.
Even before the pandemic, life in the UK was hard for our clients. Most asylum seekers live on just £37 a week, in sub-standard accommodation or without a home at all. Many are isolated, lonely and traumatised, and are forced to wait years for an asylum decision.
The pandemic has increased isolation, unemployment, poverty, ill health and delays in claims. With temporary housing protection and benefits uplifts ending, we can expect to see continuing effects on housing, benefits, poverty and mental health well into the future.
More than 20,000 people have come to our centres since we first opened in 1996. They represent communities from more than 30 different countries around the world.
We support a new client almost every day to access benefits, housing or immigration advice and signpost hundreds of clients every year to partner organisations.
Each week, our kitchen staff and volunteers provide around 100 fresh, hot meals. In the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic, we delivered over 4,000 emergency parcels to our most vulnerable clients.
We welcome 15-20 children to our creche each week and organise activities during the school holidays. This allows a dozen or more families to talk to an adviser, knowing their children are safe and cared for.
In 2019, we supported 1,100 clients and their families. While some clients are in complex situations that can take months to resolve, others are only able to come for a day before they are dispersed. We offer them a meal, social support, therapeutic activities and help making contacts in the city they’re heading to.