Richmondshire group raises £700 to help asylum seekers

Sarah Banfield, of the Refugee Council, speaks at the Richmondshire Labour Party fundraiser.

A scheme to offer help and support to asylum seekers has received a boost of nearly £700 thanks to the efforts of people in Richmondshire.

An information and fundraising event organised by Richmondshire Labour Party to support Justice First – a Teesside-based support group – attracted nearly 60 people and raised £692.

Organisers of the event on December 9 say asylum seekers whose applications are still in the process of being considered are not eligible for benefits, and neither are they able to work.

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Martin Booth, from Justice First, said: “They have virtually nothing and without the support of the Mary Thompson Fund, which is administered by Justice First, they would be destitute.

“This fund provides a small amount of financial support – £5 – £10 a week – for food and clothing.

“Justice First are also able to help with access to accommodation, some of which is provided by families who provide a room in their own homes for the asylum seekers.”

At the meeting it was explained that across North Yorkshire, a number of refugees with full refugee status had been resettled with multi-agency support.

However, their status is different to that of the asylum seekers supported by Justice First.

An asylum seeker is someone who is seeking international protection but whose claim for refugee status has not yet been determined.

A small number of refugee families are being resettled in Richmondshire next year.

These families have full refugee status and are accepted as being people who have had to flee their country of origin and are unable to return because of a well-founded fear of being persecuted.

An insight meeting is being organised by the Refugee Council working with Richmondshire District Council to outline what support, befriending, and volunteering roles will be required when a similar resettlement programme begins in Richmondshire in 2018.