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An outpouring of generosity

Our clothing appeal has met with donations coming in from many parts of the city and surrounding rural areas. We have been able to meet the current needs of the asylum seekers currently accommodated in York. We have built up a reserve of items so that we can help to provide suitable clothing and footwear for arrivals in the New Year. Though the majority of residents will be around for some to come, a small number of people leave and are replaced by new asylum seekers needing clothing.  Thanks to your generosity, we shall assist with their needs.

It is not only the quantity of clothing which has been generous, it has been the quality. I have seen some amazing designer labels in the coats and jackets. For the moment, we have a full storehouse, and the distribution of clothes won’t be taking place at the accommodation over Christmas and the New Year.

With grateful thanks to all contributors, we will stand down our collecting process for the moment.

A citizen without doubt

One of our services is to assist refugees who have been given permanent leave to remain in the UK, to apply for UK citizenship. This enables them to hold a UK passport, and to have full rights in the country. We recommend this to those individuals and families who intend to make this country their permanent home. It provides them with the documents and proof of their right to be here, beyond dispute.

However, the hurdles to be overcome are significant, and include financial ones.  It helps to have legal support to make the application. That is normally around £250 per person.  The Home Office fees are £1012 for a child under the age of 18, irrespective of whether they were born in the UK or not. For adults, the fee is £1330 per person.  For a family of mother, father and 2 children that means a cost of over £5000. No other European country charges such high fees. The Home Office calculates that it makes a profit of ‘over’ £700 from each application.

The previous Home Secretary promised on his arrival in the post that he would ‘look into’ the issue of citizenship fees. After a run-in with Dominic Cummings, he handed in his resignation. Since then, silence has fallen on this matter. Can it be that the Government only welcomes those to the UK who are highly paid, and can afford large fees for citizenship? From January 1st, the new immigration rules answer that question with a resounding ‘Yes’.

Our assistance provides access to lawyers who charge reasonable fees. We also help to coach adults taking an exam in written and spoken English, unless they have an academic qualification to prove they are accomplished to a sufficient level.  They must also sit an exam to show their knowledge of British culture and history.

Here is just one recent question; ‘In what year did the English Civil War end?’   Surely you know the answer.

The award of citizenship provides relief and security to those who have come through the stressful asylum system and spent 5 years living with limited leave to remain as a refugee. With citizenship, they can plan for a long-term future. They know that they and their children are safe from those who seek to deport anyone who cannot provide documentary and up to date evidence of their right to be in the UK. That was the plight of the Windrush generation.  We want to ensure it does not happen again to those who decide in this decade to stay here in the UK and make it their home.

To make a donation to City of Sanctuary

See https://york.cityofsanctuary.org/donate

Room for more

We have a vacancy outstanding on the Board of Trustees for which we would welcome and value experience and leadership.

The Trustee would help us plan for end of the Covid19 restrictions period, in the field of fundraising. The Trusts and grant making bodies to which we have applied over the past 8 years of our existence are facing a sharp increase in applications, particularly from groups that were at one time funded by local authorities.  The amounts we can draw down from them is decreasing. We need to develop new funding streams, including direct fund raising.  Again, the lead person would find support and assistance from existing Board members.

You can express your interest in the vacancy, without commitment, by completing an application form. That will enable us to have a ‘no strings’ conversation with you about your experiences, and our expectation of a trusteeship.  If we agree together to proceed, you would be co-opted to the Board until the next AGM when you would decide whether to seek election to a full term of 3 years as trustee. You would have full voting rights as a co-opted member.

A Trustee Application Form (see link below) should be returned to [email protected]

Christmas greeting

Wherever you spend the coming Christmas holiday period, and whoever you spend it with, have a peaceful and safe time. Surely 2021 is truly one of those years when, ‘things can only get better’.

The newsletter will be back in the New Year. Thank you for your support during 2020.