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Hilary Willmer reminds us of the ongoing needs of PAFRAS: Positive Action for Refugees & Asylum Seekers

25 October 2018

There is a big red box in the meeting area labelled PAFRAS. A few people regularly give food and toiletries for the often destitute asylum seekers that eke out an existence in our city. Those gifts are much appreciated by the people who gather on a Wednesday in St Aidan’s church hall which is always overflowing as we drop off the donations. So what does Pafras do and what need is it meeting?  More information below is taken from the PAFRAS website, where you can find much more detail.

But before you read that, the immediate needs are:

FOOD Chick peas (0.5-1kg), Pulses (0.5-1kg), Tins of tuna, tomatoes, Rice (0.5-1kg) Sugar and Pasta, Tinned meat (not pork), Baked beans, Cereals (Porridge, muesli), Coffee/tea, Biscuits            

TOILETRIES Moisturiser, Nappies (mainly 10KG+), Deodorants (Men and women), Razors (disposable), Shaving Cream, Shower Gel/Body Wash, Soap, Hand wash and Tooth brushes

So what is Pafras and what does it do?

PAFRAS is the main pro­ject in Leeds providing dir­ect sup­port to des­ti­tute asylum seekers. All those who attend our drop-in are offered a meal, pre­pared by our volun­teers, snacks and fresh fruit as well as hot and cold drinks. Addi­tion­ally, at each drop-in we dis­trib­ute food par­cels put togeth­er out of the dona­tions of food­stuffs that we receive. We ensure that all volun­teers who handle food have food safety aware­ness train­ing.

The food giv­en out at our drop-in is a vital life­line for people who have little or no access to food else­where. At the same time our drop-in opens a vital social space in which people for whom meet­ing in a café is unthink­able.

Our aim has been to cre­ate a space that ser­vice users can feel at ease in and take own­er­ship of. To this end they are encour­aged to get involved in run­ning the ser­vice, from man­ning the recep­tion desk to pre­par­ing food in the kit­chen (more inform­a­tion on this can be found on the volun­teer­ing page).

Des­ti­tute asylum seekers are one of the most mar­gin­al­ised and excluded groups liv­ing in Bri­tain today. Isol­ated lin­guist­ic­ally, cul­tur­ally and socially, they fre­quent in a world where rumour and fear over-shad­ow and often play too great a part in people’s choices. In provid­ing a little for people’s imme­di­ate needs, our drop-in also opens a win­dow through which our ser­vice users are able find out more about oth­er ser­vices they can access.

A range of dif­fer­ent ser­vices are delivered at the drop-ins:

  • One to one sup­port for cli­ents with exper­i­enced staff and volun­teers,
  • Advice, sign­post­ing and refer­ral provided by exper­i­enced case­work­ers,
  • Men­tal health sup­port and com­ple­ment­ary ther­apies,
  • Social activ­it­ies and volun­teer­ing – oppor­tun­it­ies to take part in vari­ous activ­it­ies includ­ing con­ser­va­tion, arts and com­munity pro­jects in part­ner­ ship with oth­er organ­isa­tions.


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