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  • Notre Dame Refugee Centre

– 1 full time and 5 part-time staff

– 1 consultant counsellor

– 4 advice workers

– 25 general café volunteers and 3 cooks

– 15 volunteers activity leaders

(Health, ESOL, sewing, art, emplyment, website, drama/yog, massage..)

– 5 client volunteers

An average 86 visitors on each of the twice weekly Drop In sessions

– 7 newcomers each Drop In day

– 1300 active Centre users

– 81 different countries of origin

– 48 clients granted Further or Indefinite Leave to Remain

– 6 families reunited and further applications still pending

– 22 benefits applications successful

– Links to many other refugee service providers

  • Notre Dame Refugee Centre

The survey consisted of a group consultation with 12 clients and an outside facilitator, and individual questionnaires completed by further 24 clients. There was a balance of men and women. All but one of the clients surveyed were from Francophone Africa, with by far the largest group (17) from DRC. They were asked to evaluate each service and suggest changes or improvements.

The Advice service is very much in demand, and long waiting times on drop-in days can be frustrating for clients, but the quality of the advice is generally regarded as excellent, and the availability of French speaking advisers is appreciated. “The advisors take the time they need to ensure they address each case thoroughly” The Counselling service is without exception highly regarded. “Barbara respects you”. “She helps you calm down when you are facing difficult situations”. “My meetings with Barbara give me the strength to confront the future with courage.” The Health service is not accessed by very many clients but those who do use it are generally satisfied; for example, letters provided by the nurses have helped clients to access GPs. Some users made helpful suggestions about expanding nurses’ services. English classes: all agreed that the sessions gave them more confidence to speak English in everyday situations. They welcome the fact that classes are geared to specific levels and students can move up when ready. ‘Fiona is very encouraging. I can laugh with her, which makes me feel so much better’ Harrods (clothing store) is a popular service. Clients appreciate being able to choose clothes; the improved state of cleanliness of the basement store was remarked on. Clients would welcome the provision of more toiletries and, if possible, new clothes. Art and drama classes are popular “Art classes are very relaxing”. “I go to drama sessions and it always improves my stress level.” Drop-in café: Most clients are good-natured about the crowding and noise especially in the morning on some occasions. The difficulty of accommodating children when the café is full was noted. Good suggestions were made about reducing crowding and recruiting more clients as volunteers. The hot lunches are very popular: “the food is delicious”. “Volunteers are very kind”. General: most clients expressed very positive views about the Centre, and are happy with its services. There were some suggestions for changes or improvements which will be considered carefully. ‘The Centre is an orientation point that helps you find a solution to your problems’.

Quotes The Centre is like our family’ ‘It helps us see what we didn’t know about’. “We have a tough life and when we come here we find a warm meal and support’. “The Centre is very welcoming and whenever I feel down I come” “I feel less lonely here. People can talk to each other about everything .I’ve made a lot of friends here.” “I can talk my language. It is like home.” “I’ve made a lot of friends here. It is like a therapy!”


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  • Notre Dame Refugee Centre

The Rt Hon Stephen Timms is currently the Member of Parliament representing East Ham, one of the boroughs in which a considerable number of our visitors live. He is also the Labour Party’s Faith Envoy.

On Thursday January 11th, MP Stephen Timms was invited by the Director, Sarah Hughes to tour Notre Dame Refugee Centre meeting clients, volunteers and advisors.

The visit gave us the opportunity to raise some important concerns :

The Reduction of Homelessness Bill and the impact this might have on our visitors.

The introduction of Universal Credit : with this new mechanism, clients have to wait 6 weeks before getting their first payment, which leads them into difficulties (running into debt and risk of eviction from their homes) Click here to kow morre about it

The lack of social housing: we asked him to be more proactive on social housing including upgrading the housing stock

The increasing costs of immigration : for instance « the further leave to remain » application cost of £933 for 2.5 years

Mr. Timms confirmed us that the Homelessness Reduction Act is due to come into force in April 2018. The Act will modify and extend existing homelessness protection in a number of key ways:

Click here to know more about it

Five key changes in the Homelessness Reduction Act

Mr. Timms was impressed with the scope of the Centre and its clear appreciation by visitors. Mr Timms with a visitor.

Thank you for your visit!

Discover the website for the Rt Hon Stephen Timms MP, Member of Parliament for East Ham since 1994.

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