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Local people in Swaledale and Arkengarthdale had an opportun...Read More

Local people in Swaledale and Arkengarthdale had an opportunity to find out more about work amongst refugees and asylum seekers last month, with a visit to Reeth by three very different speakers to share their varied experiences in the Teesside area with supporters of 2Dales Action for Refugees. Opening the meeting, Peter Widlinski explained about his work with Justice First, an organisation which supports those whose asylum claims have been refused; helping them re-engage with the legal process and gather necessary evidence to put together an appeal or a fresh claim for asylum, while also offering support to deal with personal problems arising from their situation. A crucial part of this network was the Stockton based Mary Thompson Fund which provided basic support at times of crisis for those in extreme need but who were not allowed to work or study until their asylum status was granted. Work in the Tees Valley of Sanctuary centred on bringing together individuals and organisations with a view to making the area more welcoming, and was supported in a variety of ways by charities and informal groups such as 2Dales Action for Refugees who have organised Christmas collections and several visits to the dale over the past eighteen months. From a totally different point of view, Yacouba Traore, now an IT student at Teesside University, spoke of his own experience of arriving in the UK as an unaccompanied 16 year old after the assassination of his parents during civil war in Ivory Coast. Speaking no English he was relocated to foster parents in Teesside and was very grateful for the help he had received, particularly with language studies from a drop-in centre there, and for the donations which had enabled him and other asylum seekers to get a wider experience of the country. Retired deputy head teacher Mary Frankland had become involved in the work after meeting asylum seekers and realising that the reality was very different to that which she had seen in the media. As well as opening her home to those in need, she ran a drop in offering English classes and a chance to socialise over shared interests, and helped support people who needed assistance with interviews and appointments. Mary stressed the many opportunities for people to offer practical support, from acting as advocates and interpreters to simply offering to look after children while their parents attended appointments. 2Dales Action for Refugees are currently organising another Christmas appeal, collecting toys, toiletries, woolly hats, scarves, gloves and socks for all ages, which can be left at Hudson House in Reeth between from December 4 to 11. Details of their recent events can be seen on Facebook (http://.facebook.com/2Dales-Action-For-Refugees) or for more information contact Joan Graveson 01748-886470....

These young people have done a brilliant job - a HUGE thank ...Read More

These young people have done a brilliant job - a HUGE thank you!...

Thank you to the amazing young people working with The Princ...Read More

Thank you to the amazing young people working with The Prince’s Trust at Stockton Riverside College for reviving and rejuvenating our yard at Justice First. It is looking fantastic!!...

Marhabaan Cafe Project: Great initiative by our colleagues a...Read More

Marhabaan Cafe Project: Great initiative by our colleagues at Methodist Asylum Project (MAP) and Open Door - please come along and support if you are in Middlesbrough on a Thursday!...

Thanks SO much to Steve Ollis for organising another hugely ...Read More

Thanks SO much to Steve Ollis for organising another hugely successful quiz night for Justice First. One of my friends posted on Facebook “Brilliant evening at Justice First Quiz. Didn’t win but great questions and yummy food.” I guess that says it all, and we raised nearly £800! A huge thank you to everyone who came to support us....

QUIZ NIGHT THIS SATURDAY Saturday 14th October 2017 7.30pm ...Read More

QUIZ NIGHT THIS SATURDAY Saturday 14th October 2017 7.30pm - 10.30pm Egglescliffe Church Hall Butts Lane Egglescliffe TS16 9BU Please come and join us for our ever popular ‘Quiz Night’, with questions set by our resident quizmaster, Steve Ollis Last year almost 100 people came to do battle, forming 10 teams consisting of the finest brains on Teesside (it was claimed!) As always, questions will cover general knowledge, sport, music, popular culture, TV, current affairs, local and national trivia, the history of Darlington FC 1883 - 2017 Are you up for the challenge? If so tickets are just £10 per person to include a hot buffet and soft drinks Bring your own bottle/s if you require something stiffer To book your place, please call 01642 60 11 22 / 07419 375 807...

Hi All, If anyone has a double mattress, preferably without ...Read More

Hi All, If anyone has a double mattress, preferably without springs we are in desperate need of one for a wonderful client who has just had an extremely difficult childbirth and is suffering. Thank you, we will be eternally grateful....

The Zulus are back for a Taste of Africa 2017. 21st October ...Read More

The Zulus are back for a Taste of Africa 2017. 21st October at The Olympia Building, Teesside University....

The impact of our work in 2016/17

Our staff keep meticulous records of the number of people assisted and each case file is kept up to date. This is a huge administrative task, but vital to the success of our mission. Over the past few years our three part- time case work staff have regularly dealt with over 1000 client contacts each year.  During the 12 months from August 2016 to July 2017 Justice First has worked with 450 individual asylum seekers.  In that same time period Justice First assisted 121 clients to mount their appeals and 60 fresh claims were completed, so far resulting in 22 people being given a form of leave to remain in the UK. Of the rest, 80 clients proved eligible for further legal aid and were referred to solicitors to help them make their representations. Our key aim is to enable asylum seekers to re-engage with the legal process by gathering sufficient evidence to mount a fresh claim. Once this is achieved and the claim is accepted, they have access to legal aid and can be passed on to solicitors. Whilst only a small proportion will go on to be granted leave to remain in the UK, this number has increased recently and this is in part due to the use of Article Eight of the Human Rights Act.  This is of importance to asylum seekers who have children that are growing up and being educated in the UK, as it allows them to argue that their children’s right to a family life depends on themselves and their parents being granted leave to remain in the UK.  This is a complex area of law and one for which it is not possible to obtain legal aid, so our staff are gaining expertise through training and through practice in the use of Article Eight to assist our clients.  During the past 12 months just over 50% of the 180 applications made referred to Article Eight and 11 of these have so far been successful. Over the last three years there have been 33 successful cases of clients that have been helped to mount their cases using this section of the Human Rights Act.

Our educational and awareness raising work is also important as this supports both our local fund raising and also the environment and welcome that asylum seekers in our region receive. Our staff provide training, make presentations and lead workshops.  This work includes providing opportunities for asylum seekers and settled residents of the area to meet each other and engage in activities, such as cooking, walking in the countryside, playing football or attending social events together and to learn from each other through social interaction. Whilst it is difficult to keep records of the number of individuals influenced or engaged in this work, we estimate that we reach four to five thousand people a year.

Our staff team also host trainee doctors and social workers from Durham University and Teesside University respectivley. They help the students to gain insight into the problems faced by asylum seekers that will be relevant to their future careers. Our staff also give lectures on these courses.