News & Events
On March 19th we closed our drop-in doors for the last time and moved to telephone only service. The first weeks of lockdown were frightening for many but for our clients, on meagre funds, many with limited English to understand the public messages, cut off from usual networks, not to mention the threat of the virus, it was an isolating experience.
A core DASH team began providing welfare and asylum assistance remotely. We opened a phone line where we triaged calls according to need then scheduled phone appointments. We’re working with approx 50 clients a week.
We gradually reintroduced some volunteer activity – 5 teams: ESL, Welfare Checkers, Interpreters, Distributors and Asylum guides. This work has given a vital line of contact with clients and made many feel less alone. We applied for emergency Covid funding and ran a JustGiving appeal to buy phone top ups to keep clients connected. Digital exclusion has been one of the key challenges faced by asylum seekers during lockdown, as usual places offering free wifi have closed at the same time that many services moved online.
Cash raised helped us buy an SMS messaging system to let clients know of important changes to government and health guidance. We secured 40 radios that we’ve given to clients to combat isolation and help with English learning. We sourced 35- facemasks that have been sent to clients’ homes. We continue to top up phoned and pay destitution money to those in receipt of no other support.
Winter 2019 / 2020:
Over the past few months, up to 60 clients and volunteers enjoyed trips to: M6 Children’s Theatre, Marsden Jazz Festival, Huddersfield Library, Huddersfield Town football matches (courtesy of One 17 Design Charitable Trust) and the Lawrence Batley Theatre. We’re grateful to these organisations for sharing the wonder and value of UK culture, leisure and life. We’ve also continued to enjoy crafting visits from S2R, and clients have been able to access bicycles from the brilliant local charity Streetbikes.
We’re proud to have been nominated for a Kirklees Diversity & Inclusion Award. Up to 100 clients a week from over a dozen countries, five religions, speaking an average of 13 languages could only be properly served by inclusive practice. Staff and trustees with lived experience of the asylum system also help ensure that DASH is a ‘done with not done to’ organisation.
In October, clients took part in a high-profile study carried out by Heriot-Watt University and funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. The study has previously been cited by the UN and DWP in defining destitution and informing policy. Thank you to our clients who took part – a whopping 80%! This high level of engagement was noted by study organisers.
This Autumn/Winter, we’ve attended and hosted national, regional and local conferences and meetings to better connect with asylum-supporting organisations. Closer working is one of our responses to the Hostile Envrionment; to put it bluntly, we need each other. These groups have included Refugee Action, NACCOM and Migration Yorkshire. Locally, we’ve visited REACH, 611, Volunteers Together, KCALC, the Welcome Centre, PDVG, TSL and Kirklees Council. Our thanks to organisations giving their time and expertise to assist a more collaborative approach for the benefit of asylum seekers in Kirklees.
In September, a call-out for help with our food stocks raised over £600 in two days! In December we beat our £1000 target for the Santa Dash that eight clients took part in. This was to raise money for a telephone interpreting service – a vital asset. If ever you’d be interested in running a fundraiser for DASH, we’d be more than happy to offer assistance. If you’re interested in regular giving (which helps us be more strategic with our budget), please click the ‘Donate’ button on the Home page.
Our all-new Volunteer Development Programme has got off to a flying start. Since September, DASH volunteers have undertaken training in: first aid, safeguarding, food safety, asylum overview, OISC Level 1 and the fantastic Asylum Guides course. We’d like to thank Red Cross, TSL and Refugee Action for making this possible. One volunteer fed back that her training was ‘two hours of brilliance!’ We’ve opened up our in-house training to non-DASH folk as we feel that basic asylum knowledge is essential for those working in asylum support. In December, we held one of our regular Coffee & Catch Up sessions, which allow volunteers to share and feedback their insights, experiences and suggestions. DASH couldn’t function without its volunteers. We’re grateful for and proud of them.
DASH is fortunate to work with Refugees At Home, a dedicated hosting charity that matches hosts to guests. Huddersfield hosts are desperately needed, short or long-term. If you’re interested and would like to know more, please click on ‘Hosting’, under the Support Us drop-down.
Spring and Summer 2019:
In April, we announced a new partnership with Paddock Community Trust. In a joint statement, DASH Secretary Jane Fowden said: “We’re now at the heart of a thriving community centre. The partnership brings us together with Works Better, Welcome Mentors and Talk English. We’re excited to be working under one roof, strengthening links for the benefit of asylum seekers and refugees in Kirklees.”
Paddock’s Christian Simpkin added: “This partnership has enabled us to reach people we wouldn’t normally because we didn’t have those relationships. Now our services can increase DASH’s offer and reach those most in need.”
April saw Le Grand Depart of our much-loved volunteer, Dave Ramsden, as he set off from Huddersfield Station, on a round-Britain cycle ride of over 2000 miles to raise cash for DASH. As I type this in June, he’s still going! In all weathers with nowt but his bike and a tent. If you’d like to support him (and us) you can do so here https://mydonate.bt.com/events/cycleridefordash
In April, we were absolutely thrilled to learn that three of our clients, all from the same family, were awarded the Kirklees Adult Learners Award. This family have been active volunteers at DASH for many years, from fundraising to catering (in which they have a professional background) to now giving asylum advocacy and advice, having trained through OISC. Despite the many hardships they have faced on their asylum journey, they have continued to inspire those they’ve helped and trained under.
A training provider at Paddock Community Trust said “I have felt privileged that I have been able to be part of their journey.” The family responded “we love Huddersfield and the people here. Now we’ve received Leave to Remain, we’re looking forward to bringing more in the way of contribution to OUR community.”
The last three months saw us attend conferences, trainings and multi-agency meetings with Refugee Action, NACCOM, WYDAN and Kirklees Multi Agency Steering Group. Thanks also to Volunteering Kirklees ,TSL and the Welcome Centre for sharing their expertise.
Thank you to our friends at Purpose of Life Charity and Ghausia Mosque in Lockwood who, through the month of Ramadan, extended invitations for DASH to join them for some wonderful Iftars, the meal where the daily fast is broken. These invites help our Muslim clients feel included and connected, and offer non-Muslims the chance to come together to share in, and better understand, the values and practices of a community that faces high levels of hostility, born out of ignorance.
We are extremely lucky to have S2R Create Space, the Kirklees wellbeing charity, run crafting sessions at our drop ins. What a difference they make! The smiles of the people taking part say it all. Just watching the creations take shape has a relaxing effect. Thank you, Sian!
Volunteers Week 1 – 7 June
Our 7 day social media campaign – a week in the life of a DASH volunteer – highlighted all that our volunteers do. The campaign saw our combined social media following climb to nearly 1100 followers. Please share/ retweet our posts. Social media is a useful resource for getting the message out.
Refugee Week 17 – 23 June
DASH is running two special events for Refugee Week (well, either side of it).
Friday 14th is our cinema showing of the highly-praised and much-loved Paddington 2 at Paddock Village Hall, in partnership with Dollyshot Pop Up Picturehouse.
Friday 28th sees our first pop-up restaurant! Plans for this are still taking shape but we’re grateful for the support of our partners Paddock Community Trust and to Kirklees Council’s Strategic Migration & Refugee Manager, Sarah Mitchell for helping to make this happen.
See you there!
DASH is a proud member of the Lift The Ban Coalition, working to reverse the work ban on asylum seekers, a policy that enforces poverty and denies the right to integrate and live in dignity. June is the coalition’s Month of Action. We’ll be distributing postcards at our Refugee Week events and ask you to add a personalised message to the Home Secretary. We’ll forward the postcards to Lift The Ban so they can be sent to the Home Office in one nationwide batch.