Meet Anne, the new guardian angel of Leeds refugees
From shoes to sports equipment and legal help: how Care4Calais’ regional volunteers are helping refugees within the UK
Outside a hotel on the outskirts of Leeds, a group of refugees is playing football. Some don’t have shoes. One man is trying to join in wearing only a pair of broken flip flops. It’s a long walk into town, and aside from basic meals, the group has no money for transport or essentials.
Anne, a UK-based Care4Calais volunteer who heads up the Leeds group, has come here to assess their needs.
“I could see straight away the joy that playing sport was bringing to their day, and knew that in addition to basic necessities, I needed to bring footballs and trainers next time,” says Anne. Some may consider these ‘non-essentials’, but sport can have a huge impact on mental and physical health, and foster a sense of friendship and community.
From mobile phones to legal help
Through Anne and her fellow Leeds group volunteers, we’ve provided things like clothes, mobile phones and English language teaching resources to refugees in temporary accommodation. Mobile phones are received particularly well by the refugees here, as this may be their only means of contacting loved ones or applying for asylum. We also link refugees up with legal advisers, and in this region alone, we’ve referred a dozen new referrals for legal support in the past fortnight. This is one part of our operation that is growing particularly rapidly.
Helping refugees feel valued
This visit was the start of a tireless journey for Anne. Straight away she reached out to local recycling groups and friends, and collected trainers, football boots and footballs for everyone at the hotel. She spoke to local clothing charities and gathered 80 t-shirts and 50 pairs of trousers. It’s been hard work, but it’s work she sees as hugely important in helping refugees feel valued.
“They put on brave faces but you can see their journey has taken its toll. With Mental Health being a huge focus across the UK, emotional support shouldn’t stop when it comes to refugees.”
Thank you, Anne, for the fantastic work you do.
To join our efforts in supporting refugees in the UK, please click here to take a look at this post.