- OHOB – Open Hearts Open Borders
- START – Students and Refugees Together
- DCRS – Devon and Cornwall Refugee Support
Describe your aims and ideas
Refugee Resettlement Support.
The scope of this project and fund, is simply about making those who have either been resettled here or are seeking asylum, to feel safe and welcome in the city. The way we achieve this, is by supporting them at a foundational level with access to essentials items and services. We want those who have fled conflict to feel welcome and give them confidence to rebuild their lives without fear. Whilst also providing the support to create a home once again or an environment which is comfortable and not full of broken or stained items, or electrical goods that do not work. This is such an important part of resettlement and for those seeking asylum, especially they are traumatised by their experiences. It is so important especially for the children that they feel welcome and know that they are cared for within the wider community. What better to show this then through this type of provision. A donated broken fridge or stained mattress doesn’t really show care for others and is not a great start to a new life!
In 2016 a government community grant was cut impacting on many people, and affected the refugee community quite negatively; with less access to funds and support this cut was noticeable. So, due to social media support OHOB decided to create the Resettlement Support Project to support organisations, such as START and DCRS in Plymouth to provide them with what was needed for their service users. Since this time the project has been supporting 100’s of refugee families and individuals as well as asylum seekers across the city.
Through referrals from DCRS and START, OHOB provide either furniture, white goods, payments for goods and services, travel costs, clothing, food vouchers and various smaller household items; support is provided to new mothers and their babies, as some cannot access the maternity grant. OHOB have also provided hot plates and fold-away beds (for refugees/asylum seekers in temporary accommodation) and have helped with storage, and furniture delivery costs.
To sustain the project OHOB have received previous grants and funding, and put together fundraisers and small events to raise the funds needed. In the last 2 years, OHOB has spent nearly £20,000 across the city on various payments, and purchases for items needed; this has even included educational resources during lockdown. Support is provided which may not be accessed elsewhere. The need increases each year, so the amount spent inevitably increases too!
The requests and referrals are fulfilled by either: purchasing or ordering the items and getting them delivered direct; at times items are sourced from the community; small grants are provided, or payments are made for goods and services. If there is not enough money in the budget items fundraisers are set up in the community. We work with local businesses to provide the furniture and white goods and have policies and procedures in place to support the project, but what makes the project unique is that support and assistance is provided quickly and efficiently because of the circumstances of the client or service user. We believe in support and aid with dignity, we believe in providing what they need, rather than what others think they need. Now with the situation in Afghanistan this support and type of project is required more than ever.
Describe how will you work together to achieve this.
For the last 5 years, OHOB, START and DCRS have been working closely together with resettlement support; OHOB have been providing items, funding or small grants required to support their service users with what is needed. OHOB receive referrals and these are processed quickly and smoothly and they have always been flexible. START and DCRS know their service users very well and what they need, and combined we have a good working relationship built on trust and understanding of need for the service users. OHOB are always happy to provide where they can and have been organising and delivering this type of support for many years, they have the skills administratively, logistically and the fundraising capabilities. OHOB will make phone calls to order items, go direct to the collect item, order online, or source items from what has been donated. They have become quite skilled at it! OHOB even have our own delivery driver who has delivered many a fridge freezer and sofa. He also does some work for START and helps to move refugee families across the country.
As a collective we met to discuss the fund and felt that it was a much needed resource which could be utlised by the three organisations to support what was needed especially in areas which other funders may not support. Often purchases, grants or payments can take time to come through for service users from other charities, and additionally they may not be able to fund the request, but OHOB have a good system in place whereby they understand the need and how this can sometimes be instant. OHOB do not have long drawn out processes for the START and DCRS service users and staff, and this is understood and welcomed; OHOB can provide support as and when needed and this fund will continue to help to do that.
As a collective we want to provide support which is dignified and not subject to reams and reams of paperwork – it needs to be accessible and simplistic in its structure and serve the purpose it was set up for. The three organisations work well with this, and will continue to do so.
During the first round, POP members will be asked to advise you. What advice would be most helpful?
Ways that the resettlement support service could be improved – perhaps gaining some ideas direct from refugees and asylum seekers as to what may need and what they would like to access which they can’t
Are there any local businesses that we can support direct with any purchases we make (we like to support local businesses when sourcing specific items)