Monday 20 June is World Refugee Day and it also marks the start of Refugee Awareness Week. At CCP, we are proud to be providing support to a number of refugees and asylum seekers, including four unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASC) and several of Ukraine's displaced families. Here's how we're helping...

Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC)

Over the last year, Gloucestershire has welcomed a number of unaccompanied children, who find themselves seeking asylum in the UK, without the support of their families. These minors are alone and commonly isolated, and they may or may not speak English. Working with the local Council, CCP is proud to have become a partner for these young people, providing supported accommodation and care. We are on hand to settle them into their new home, organised and serviced by us, providing them with ongoing support and care every day.

What support does CCP offer?

At CCP, we focus on independent living skills, but tailor our approach for each young person depending on their needs. Traditionally, this has been something that we have done with local young people who find themselves homeless, or are leaving care, but we are proud to have extended our support to asylum seeking minors as well.

With our UASC clients we help welcome them to the country and ensure that they know where they are and how to access local services, including how to shop and spend local money. Our teams have definitely encountered new challenges, such as signing them up to a GP or getting them a bank account; things that are usually simple for our other young people, but which prove a challenge when fleeing your home country with limited recognised documentation. 

Currently, CCP is housing four unaccompanied asylum seeking children in Gloucestershire. We are really proud that all four are accessing some for of education while with us. One is currently in school and is now looking at colleges, while another is already in college and aspires to go to University and train to be an engineer. The other two are earlier in their education journey, and have been equipped with home tutors and lessons that teach them English and functional skills, putting them on course for full integration into UK society.  

To support our work, we are extremely well support by GARAS in Gloucester, who are experienced with the asylum process and gaining these young people their refugee status. 

What happens next?

Ultimately, these young people will stay with us for a while, but what happens next is a bit of an unknown. While we, and many other groups are doing all they can, even the local social services are still learning about the process, which is also being updated regularly. While they remain a child or care leaver, they will be provided supported accommodation by CCP. After that, there are a lot of factors to consider, such as their immigration status, whether they have been granted asylum while with us, whether the Home Office has accepted responsibility for them, and whether the young person is happy to agree to the terms of their asylum.
The ideal outcome will be that they are granted refugee status and then will be eligible to work (which they cannot while they have asylum seeker status), can begin contributing locally, and will be able to access most, if not all, of the services that a British citizen has access to, including the NHS, social housing etc. 

How can people help?

CCP is a charity, and everything that we do requires funding. The most important things we need to support these unaccompanied minors are:

  • Donations: these are vital to continuing CCP's work and allow us to support these young people beyond their current agreement. They are supported with basic provisions, but donations are used by CCP to enrich their lives and integrate them in the community, beyond accommodation, food, and support. Donate today +
  • Professional volunteering: while we understand and can support these young people with their daily needs, the asylum seeking process is complex and we are still learning. We welcome volunteers who have any understanding of the laws, procedures, and appeals that these young people might be faced with. Please contact us if you can help +
  • Community: our UASC clients are from Iran and don't know anyone in Gloucestershire when they come over here. Although we show them where the local Mosques are, they are missing interactions from the Kurdish community and we haven't been fully able to connect with these communities yet. If you can introduce us, or would like to connect with these young people, please contact us +

We are proud of our work and the part we are playing in making sure refugees are welcome.

#WorldRefugeeDay #RefugeeAwarenessWeek #RefugeesWelcome

Displaced Ukrainian Families

As the conflict in Ukraine grows and more people find themselves displaced, they are finding sanctuary in Cheltenham thanks to the generosity of local people. CCP is offering our support with membership of The Community Pantry, which offers them access to a selection of store cupboard and fresh food items for £3.50 per week. The Community Pantry is a heavily subsidised service, provisioned entirely by donations of money and food, and offers our clients a dignified, approachable alternative to the traditional food bank experience.

Want to help?

This time last year, The Community Pantry supported between 80 & 90 members on any given week, but this year, that number has risen to 140 members, growing on average at 8-10 members per week. In part, this has been driven by the cost of living crisis, but in part it has been the result of the Ukrainian crisis and the displaced individuals coming to Cheltenham. At the same time, The Community Pantry is experiencing its lowest ever ebb in donations, receiving just seven bags of shopping last week (approximately 160 items) with over 1,400 items leaving the pantry weekly. We desperately need donations, and the quickest way to do that is to make a monetary donation to the pantry here +

We are proud of every member of our team helping to make a difference and the bit we're doing to help ensure Refugees are welcome. Can you help us?