June 18, 2017
by rst2012
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RST International Folk Concert, 21st June

refugee-festival-scotland-logo-2017 WEB

Join us as part of Refugee Festival Scotland for an international folk concert featuring a unique blend of old and new, with:

Kameran Hamo

Kameran Hamo has been living in Edinburgh for a year, and has kindly played at many concerts for RST and other refugee charities. We are delighted to welcome him and his family to this concert, during Refugee Week.

The Syn Eastern Music Group

The Syn Eastern Music Group is led by Stella Mazeri and it is made up of musicians interested in Middle Eastern and Balkan music. They will play a variety of tunes from Greek, Turkish, Kurdish, Persian and other traditions. They practise regularly in Edinburgh and all levels and types of acoustic instruments and/or voice (guitar, oud, lute, violin, flute, percussion etc.) are welcome. We are also very interested to hear from anyone who could teach a song or tune. Please email: synmusicbands@gmail.com

Sarah Phizacklea & Majik Stokes

Majk Stokes and Sarah Phizacklea are both Edinburgh-based singer-songwriters. Over the past three years they have collaborated to create the Fringe concerts “Make Tea, Not War” at the Quaker Meeting House, raising funds for various charities. More recently they have worked together on Majk’s upcoming new album “Too Much Caffeine” (available in August).

Sarah regularly performs with “The Pearls”, a 1950s housewife-style duo, bringing cheer to hospitals and nursing homes. Majk also plays and calls for ceilidhs with his band Shingis McKingis. They are honoured to have been asked to play this evening in aid of RST.

Community Kurdish DancingWP_20170405_19_46_37_Pro

Come along and find out about the music, instruments and dances of cultures from around the world, share delicious foods, and celebrate connections between different communities.

PLUS!

A chance to win an original painting by internationally renowned artist Nihad Al Turk in the raffle – don’t miss this incredible opportunity to own a one-off piece of art!

Nihad

7pm – 9pm

Lauriston Hall, 28 Lauriston Street, Edinburgh EH3 9DJ

FREE ENTRY

International food and soft drinks provided

Funding available to support transport costs for refugees – please contact info@rst.org.uk for more information.

Donations welcome – all money raised goes to RST’s grant programmes for asylum seekers and refugees

This event is part of Refugee Festival Scotland 2017, Tuesday 20 June – Sunday 2 July 2017. #RefugeeFestScot

Coordinated by Scottish Refugee Council, Refugee Festival Scotland is an annual Scotland-wide programme of arts, cultural, educational, heritage and sport events that brings refugee and local communities across Scotland together.

June 1, 2017
by rst2012
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New refugees and destitution

You are an asylum seeker in Glasgow. You have been in the asylum process for several years, working to persuade the Home Office that your claim for asylum is genuine and that you cannot return to your home country. Finally a decision is made – you have been granted refugee status! Time to celebrate, surely? Not yet. First you need to apply for mainstream benefits. You’re lucky in this case, as your English is fluent and you are able to negotiate the language of UK bureaucracy. Time is ticking, as your Home Office support and accommodation are only provided for 28 days from the day you get status. Weeks pass with no sign of mainstream support. You are evicted from your housing and left destitute, with no money for food or accommodation.

The recent All Party Parliamentary Group on Refugees report “Refugees Welcome?” examines crucial flaws in the asylum system, such as the above example, and how these impact on asylum seekers and refugees in the UK. The report highlights a number of problems which will be frustratingly familiar to many refugees, asylum seekers and people who work to support those in the asylum process. The two-tier nature of the asylum process is laid bare, with people coming to the UK as part of one of the government-led resettlement schemes being provided with accommodation and casework support, while for those who have made their way to the county and then gone through the asylum process independently there is no government support for either of these things.  Casework support covers such crucial aspects of integration into a new society as support to access ESOL provision, assistance with negotiating the social security system once eligible, support with finding employment, education and volunteering opportunities. Without support in these areas many people will struggle to navigate the systems of UK society and can become isolated as a result. 

While people are in the asylum system they are forbidden from working, so in most cases are reliant on Home Office-provided housing and asylum support (£36 per week, or approximately half of Job Seekers Allowance). When people receive a positive decision on their case the period between this support being cut off and the person transferring to mainstream benefits is currently a 28 day “move on” period. The Scottish Refugee Council’s report Rights, Resilience & Refugee Integration in Scotland shows the average time from a person being granted refugee status and receiving their first Jobseekers Allowance payment is 41 days. The delay is significantly longer for receiving Child Benefit (90 days) and Child Tax Credits (110 days), putting families at a significant disadvantage. Alongside the challenges of negotiating the private housing market and the general lack of support for these new refugees in this period there is a very real risk of people being left homeless and destitute.  If you are a new refugee at the end of the move-on period and haven’t yet been fully installed on the mainstream benefits system you are evicted from your housing and made homeless, with no access to the support you are now legally entitled to.

At this stage new refugees in Glasgow can be referred to RST for a grant to cover their costs during this period, to prevent people from becoming homeless and destitute. In 2016-17 we provided 65 grants to new refugees awaiting mainstream benefits, totalling £6,356.00. We supported 86 adults and 58 children who had been newly granted refugee status but instead of being able to celebrate their application being successful were on the brink of being made homeless and left with no money for food.

The issues facing new refugees in this period are soon to both worsen and be felt by a much larger section of society with the rolling up of several existing benefits into Universal Credit, which has a six week wait for the first payment as standard. The short move-on period is just one of the crisis points built in to the asylum system, periods of transition between parts of the process whereby people are much more likely to fall into destitution. Others include the initial process of claiming asylum which in the majority of cases requires an application to be made in person in Croydon, and the period immediately following a negative decision on a case. In these periods refugees and asylum seekers are able to apply for a small RST destitution grant to tide them over. However each of these stages is present in the system by design, and while we have provided grants to tens of thousands of refugees and asylum seekers over our 21 year existence it should not be the role of the voluntary sector to catch people when they fall through the cracks in the system. The system is broken and unfit for purpose. 

Take action 

  • Help RST continue to provide destitution grants to sustain people through these crisis points in the system – donate here.
  • Ask your candidates in the General Election to sign the Refugee Council’s pledge to remember the importance of refugee protection.
  • Contact your local representatives and let them know your thoughts on the current asylum system. Immigration is devolved to Westminster but MSPs can still take action in various ways – see for example the Equalities and Human Rights Committee’s recent report Hidden Lives – New Beginnings: Destitution, Asylum and Insecure Immigration Status in Scotland.
  • Volunteer your time to help RST’s work – for more information about volunteering please contact Katherine Mackinnon, volunteer_coordinator@rst.org.uk.
  • Find out more about the diverse experiences of refugees and asylum seekers and the community groups and organisations working with them by taking part in Refugee Festival Scotland.

May 22, 2017
by rst2012
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Veg pledge for asylum seekers

Unfortunately, many people within the UK’s asylum process experience destitution. The Refugee Survival Trust’s Destitute Asylum Seeker Service is a lifeline for these individuals; we provide comprehensive support, including organising accommodation, bus pass vouchers and legal advice to help them to resolve their cases. We are now raising funds for our shopping budget programme, through which we give small amounts of cash to help refugees with their weekly shop.

Fruit & veg

The destitute asylum seekers that we work with have no form of income. We help them to register for the food bank, but the supply of fresh food is limited and variable. We give each asylum seeker £10 per week to buy nutritious essentials such as dairy products and fresh fruit and vegetables.

In a time of great stress and uncertainty, a balanced and nutritious diet is even more important than ever. The shopping budget that we give each asylum seeker can help them to remain as healthy as possible while we work with our partners to help them to resolve their cases and to find routes out of destitution.

Contribute to the veg pledge here, and find out more about our Destitute Asylum Seeker Service here.

May 15, 2017
by rst2012
Comments Off on Preventing homelessness through the Destitute Asylum Seeker Service

Preventing homelessness through the Destitute Asylum Seeker Service

Guest post by Katharine WeatherheadDASS_Leaflet_Front_Cover2

Next month, it will have been four years since the publication of a report entitled Preventing Destitute Homelessness (June 2013). The report, commissioned by the Refugee Survival Trust and compiled by Community InfoSource, investigated the challenges posed by homelessness for asylum seekers in Scotland. What were its findings and are they still relevant today?

The report pulled together findings from a range of sources across Scotland and England. Asylum seekers shared their experiences of sleeping in night shelters and being hosted in someone’s house (pp. 23-26). Domestic abuse, lack of access to showers, and lack of privacy are some of the issues they faced. Migrant support organisations also expressed difficulties in addressing aspects of destitution, from accommodation and hosting to advice and subsistence (pp. 18-22). These organisations mentioned funding and coordination as areas of concern.

The report identified a need for improvement in tackling homelessness (p. 27), a problem that results from policies and administrative practices which compose the asylum system. In response, RST headed up a project called the Destitute Asylum Seeker Service (DASS) with the support of several partner organisations: Scottish Refugee Council, British Red Cross, University of Strathclyde Law Clinic, Glasgow Night Shelter, Fasgadh and Rehoboth Nissi Ministries.

Based in Glasgow, the DASS project uses a model of holistic support and offers a range of services to address the needs of refused asylum seekers. Its three core areas of activity are destitution advice, legal support, and accommodation. By April 2016, after only 9 months of operation, the DASS project had had more than 200 applicants for assistance. It then received funding from Foundation Scotland’s New Beginnings Fund and the Big Lottery Fund to extend and continue its work.

Today, the findings of the Preventing Destitute Homelessness report continue to be relevant as a reminder of the hardships faced by asylum seekers who are excluded from social safety nets. The ongoing work of the DASS project evidences that destitution is still a significant challenge for asylum seekers in Scotland. Projects which respond to homelessness can have a positive impact on people’s lives, as encapsulated in the words of a DASS beneficiary (see extract).DASS quote

More information

For a summary of the Preventing Destitute Homelessness report, click here. For the full report, click here. For information on the DASS project and details on how to get in touch, see this short leaflet and the RST website.

April 28, 2017
by rst2012
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Get involved with RST!

We are looking for volunteers to join our events team in Glasgow, helping to plan and run event and activities to fundraise for and raise awareness of RST. In the past we’ve had concerts, poetry events, sponsored swims, a t-shirt design competition and much more – can you bring some great ideas and enthusiasm to the RST volunteer team? 

About the role

Fundraising volunteers are crucial to the continued work of RST. A small team shares the tasks of raising funds and promoting the work of the organisation by organising and representing RST at concerts, talks, and other events.

This is a great opportunity to gain experience in practical fundraising, meet new people, have fun and make a huge difference to people’s lives by raising funds for our grants. 

Main tasks

  • Thinking of creative, engaging fundraising activities and making them a reality
  • Working as part of a team to plan and organise community events to raise awareness of RST’s work and fundraise for our grants
  • Diverse events management tasks – everything from promotion and publicity to budgeting, seeking out acts or even performing yourself if you’ve got a talent to share!Georgian musicians

Skills and experience needed

  • Creative thinker
  • Enthusiasm
  • Good communication skills

Benefits to the volunteer

  • Access to RST induction and volunteer training programme
  • Learn valuable skills like events organising & promotion and public speaking
  • Meet new people and improve your confidence
  • Make a difference – contribute to RST’s crucial work with refugees and asylum seekers 

When?

This role is very flexible. Volunteers can take a very active role in organising their own events or can be added to a list to be notified of events coming up and assistance required.Jazz musicians

If you’re interested in finding out more about this volunteering opportunity please get in touch with Katherine:  volunteer_coordinator@rst.org.uk .

Note: all the great photos of musicians and performers in this post come from Wikimedia Commons, a treasure trove of freely usable media files. 

March 30, 2017
by rst2012
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Nationalities of RST grant recipients

RST Teal

From April to December 2016, RST provided 619 destitution grants to refugees and asylum seekers. The grants came to a total of £53,919.45, with an average of £87.11. The top three nationalities of grant recipients were: Eritrean (14.7%), Syrian (11.9%), and Iranian (11.1%).

Why do people flee from these countries? Here are some reasons.

Eritrea

  • Prolonged military service under abusive conditions
  • Arbitrary detention and torture during detention
  • Violation of rights to political expression
  • Discrimination against certain religious groups

Syria

  • Widespread conflict and indiscriminate violent attacks
  • Destruction of civilian facilities and infrastructure
  • Summary executions and torture
  • Gender-based violence and violence against children

Iran

  • High levels of capital punishment
  • Torture and inhuman punishment
  • Violation of rights to political expression
  • Discrimination against certain ethnic and religious groups

More information

For more statistics on RST destitution grants from April to December 2016, see our summary. For more information on conditions in Eritrea, see the reports of the Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea established by the UN. For more information on the situation in Syria, see the reports of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic established by the UN. For more information on conditions in Iran, see the reports of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Post by Katharine Weatherhead

March 24, 2017
by rst2012
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Update from a volunteer

Hi everyone,

My name is Walid from Syria studying ESOL for Work at Glasgow Clyde College I have a degree in English literature back in my country. I started volunteering with RST before 6 weeks and this is my last week. I loved the people here they are very helpful and taught me many things. It was useful volunteering here I did quite a good things translating, filing and other office tasks. And I am happy to involve in the Edinburgh cycling event next Sunday for the charities. At the last week of my volunteering I would like to thank everyone here and at the college who get me volunteering with RST.

 

Walid Khaly 20170324_120828_resized

March 16, 2017
by rst2012
Comments Off on RST Newsletter hot off the press!

RST Newsletter hot off the press!

Issue_28_cover

Our Spring Newsletter is hot off the press and includes information about all of our events and activities in 2016, and an opportunity to meet all of our new staff and board members! Subscribers will received electronic and hard copies shortly.

You can find previous RST newsletters or contact us to subscribe to the newsletter on the website.