611 Asylum Work, established by Elim Pentecostal Church Huddersfield, provides a warm welcome to all asylum seekers, failed asylum seekers and refugees who are seeking practical and emotional support; helping vulnerable people to establish a new life in the UK.
In 2005, an influx of asylum seekers from Eritrea into Huddersfield created the need for a new support service to asylum seekers and refugees. 611 Asylum Work was started in response to this need.
Daily clinic sessions provide long-term support with housing, benefits, accessing health care, budgeting and banking, translation and more. Appointments with a support worker allow clients to seek help with dignity in privacy. On Fridays, the Open Door drop- in provides a hot meal, a chance to build relationships and opportunities to access further provision.
By 2014, demand for services had increased beyond capacity; resources were stretched and clients had to be turned away.
What was needed
The church had historically met the financial needs of the project from its own income. It became clear that 611 Asylum Work needed to be constituted as a community group with the mandate to raise funds to cover its own salary and running costs. With this, a strategy to build capacity to meet the ever-growing demand for support was a priority.
What was acheived
In 2015, 611 Asylum Work became a constituted community group with a management committee fully committed to growing this essential service to the most vulnerable. At that point, 611 employed two part-time support workers for a total of 30 hours per week. This has now increased by 20 hours per week, creating a further 40 appointments.
As a result of funding success, an important development has been the creation of a new role and working process. The Asylum Host receives clients, manages initial distress and disappointment, collects supporting information, makes appointments and, perhaps most importantly, creates an atmosphere of welcome and warmth.
Annual beneficiary numbers have continued to increase to 680 individuals. Open Door is attended by up to 120 people every Friday, and is supported by a strong volunteer team, including a significant number of beneficiary volunteers. They are now developing fuller independence in clients by creating a programme of peer-to-peer support and mentoring.