Lifeline for Asylum Seekers

Leeds Asylum Seekers’ Support Network support asylum seekers and refugees and other migrants at risk  living in Leeds. Through Time to Shine funding, they were able to provide bus passes to older asylum seekers, which enabled them to make and maintain greater social contacts, access green spaces and leisure activities and access accommodation.

 

  • In a nutshell, could you tell us what your Leeds Community Foundation funded project involves?

We gave weekly bus passes to older asylum seekers: specifically to people over 50 who don’t have anywhere to stay, have zero income, and who are told by the Government that they can’t work. Most aren’t even allowed to stay in homeless hostels or to use mainstream foodbanks. By giving people bus passes, it enables them to take up offers of accommodation. It also helps them to keep in contact with friends, and give easier access green spaces and leisure activities.

 

  • Why is this kind of support so vital, what’s the need and what might be the situation if the support you offer didn’t exist?

Not every asylum seeker is a young man in their 20s. The people who get bus passes from us are people like your Uncle or your Grandma, except they’re afraid that if they go home they won’t be safe. Most have no family in the UK, so rely on the kindness of strangers and people they don’t know – like our volunteers who let them stay in their houses. Without these passes many older people would be forced to sleep rough, and go hungry.

 

  • Could you share a rewarding moment you’ve had so far? Is there a particular story you could share from a beneficiary you’ve helped?

One of our service users had this to say;

“I used my bus pass to come to Leeds and meet my therapist: he helps me a lot to resolve my dark memories; he always help me to stay with all positive experiences I have had. With all those things I can’t express to you, how much I value those bus passes I was given by LASSN. Those bus passes filled a gap in my life.”

 

  • What made you apply for a Foundation grant, and what difference has the funding from the Foundation made?

We applied because the Foundation said they wanted to help older people use public transport more. It seemed an obvious fit for us: older people with no money, no accommodation and no transport. A bus ride can be a warm shelter in the cold and rain, regardless of your immigration status. Thanks to LCF, 35 older people received an average of 6 bus passes each – which helped them increase their independence, visit new places, meet friends and access support.