2015 in review

Haringey Migrant Support Centre wants to wish all its supporters and volunteers a very Happy New Year and to thank you for your invaluable support throughout 2015!

No one of course can fail to be aware of just how crucial services such as ours have become. Such voluntary centres are increasingly among the few places to which migrants can turn for free advice, help and support. This means we have seen a steep rise in the number of visitors who are in extremely difficult, often desperate situations. Unfortunately, the pressure on many of our visitors looks set to grow even greater in 2016 with the introduction of a new immigration bill, which threatens to restrict or remove support from many migrants. Added to this there is the continued crisis in local authority funding, which affects many of the social services our visitors could previously rely on in times of need.

At the same time, however, we have been the recipients of much generosity and good will from many ordinary people and other organisations in the area, and we are often amazed by the extraordinary resilience and resourcefulness of many of our visitors, some of whom return to help us in our work.

There have been a number of developments at HMSC during 2015:

First of all, we have been very sad to see Jackie Peirce, our legal supervisor, leave the centre recently. She has been our mainstay in all immigration matters, and her tireless work has helped change the prospects of many of our visitors for the better. She will be much missed. However, often visitor’s cases take a long time to yield results, so we will no doubt continue to see the impact of Jackie’s work for quite some time.

Earlier in the year, we also said goodbye to Indira Kartallozi, who had been our welfare adviser since HMSC first began – another big loss to the centre. But the good news is that Jude Lancet has stepped into Indira’s shoes. Jude was acting as a volunteer advocate with us for some time before taking on this essential post. We are very lucky to have someone with her experience, ability and dedication. She has now been immersed in casework since 19 October.

Also, thanks to volunteer Fergus, and the expertise (and patience) of Gerry, we have been finally able to set up a structured database that will enable us to properly monitor what we do – this is essential if we wish to revise and improve on our work. It also means in future we will be able to rapidly access all the data needed to apply for funding.

And thanks to the consistent donations from Camden food bank, we have been able to start running our own small ‘food bank’ for visitors during the drop-in session on Monday.

We also organised two very successful fundraisers, a Spring Songs event and a ceilidh to celebrate our birthday, sponsored by our local Sainsbury’s on West Green Road, which raised over £2,500. Supporters and volunteers also took part in the sponsored London Legal Walk to raise money for HMSC, and spent an evening in Sainsbury’s, collecting money and donations of food, and raising our profile in the area.

Some statistics which give a flavour of our work in 2015:

During the year, 655 people visited our centre, almost half of these were families with children. The majority of people we saw had ‘overstayed’ their visas, and consequently had no recourse to public funds and no right to work. 14% of our visitors were homeless, 18% were living with friends or family or in churches, and 18% were destitute.

Our pro-bono advisers provided 482 immigration advice sessions (we often give follow-up support such as referrals to trusted solicitors) and 324 welfare advice sessions, which includes applying to social services for housing and financial support for destitute families with children.


A third of our clients cannot support themselves and are forced to rely on support from friends, family, charities, churches or mosques, and some are without any help whatsoever. We have been able to provide the basics to those of our visitors who find themselves in such situations, including non-perishable foodstuff, as well as clothes, supplied by regular donations from people in the locality.


Since November, we have referred 13 people who were either sleeping, or faced the prospect of sleeping, in the streets to winter night shelters.


We applied to charities for hardship grants for 53 of our visitors, 40 of which were successful. These sums of money, although relatively small, can make a real difference in times of crisis.


And thanks to Martin, our kitchen manager, and our fantastic kitchen team, we have been able to serve 2,879 delicious hot meals each Monday throughout the year.


Future priorities:


HMSC is now looking for free office space, for up to four days a week. After the Monday drop-in sessions are over, there is a great deal of follow-up administrative work to do. Father Joe at St John Vianney, who has enabled HMSC to exist by giving us the use of the church’s downstairs community space for our drop in and its cellar for storage, has allowed us to operate a ‘pop-up’ office in the church building. However, we have fast outgrown this and desperately need somewhere more permanent. Any suggestions will be gratefully received.

Haringey Migrant Support Centre wants to wish all its supporters and volunteers a very Happy New Year and to thank you for your invaluable support throughout 2015.


No one of course can fail to be aware of just how crucial services such as ours have become. Such voluntary centres are increasingly among the few places to which migrants can turn for free advice, help and support. This means we have seen a steep rise in the number of visitors who are in extremely difficult, often desperate situations. Unfortunately, the pressure on many of our visitors looks set to grow even greater in 2016 with the introduction of a new immigration bill, which threatens to restrict or remove support from many migrants. Added to this there is the continued crisis in local authority funding, which affects many of the social services our visitors could previously rely on in times of need.


At the same time, however, we have been the recipients of much generosity and good will from many ordinary people and other organisations in the area, and we are often amazed by the extraordinary resilience and resourcefulness of many of our visitors, some of whom return to help us in our work.


There have been a number of developments at HMSC during 2015:


First of all, we have been very sad to see Jackie Peirce, our legal supervisor, leave the centre recently. She has been our mainstay in all immigration matters, and her tireless work has helped change the prospects of many of our visitors for the better. She will be much missed. However, often visitor’s cases take a long time to yield results, so we will no doubt continue to see the impact of Jackie’s work for quite some time.


Earlier in the year, we also said goodbye to Indira Kartallozi, who had been our welfare adviser since HMSC first began – another big loss to the centre. But the good news is that Jude Lancet has stepped into Indira’s shoes. Jude was acting as a volunteer advocate with us for some time before taking on this essential post. We are very lucky to have someone with her experience, ability and dedication. She has now been immersed in casework since 19 October.


Also, thanks to volunteer Fergus, and the expertise (and patience) of Gerry, we have been finally able to set up a structured database that will enable us to properly monitor what we do – this is essential if we wish to revise and improve on our work. It also means in future we will be able to rapidly access all the data needed to apply for funding.


And thanks to the consistent donations from Camden food bank, we have been able to start running our own small ‘food bank’ for visitors during the drop-in session on Monday.


We also organised two very successful fundraisers, a Spring Songs event and a ceilidh to celebrate our birthday, sponsored by our local Sainsbury’s on West Green Road, which raised over £2,500. Supporters and volunteers also took part in the sponsored London Legal Walk to raise money for HMSC, and spent an evening in Sainsbury’s, collecting money and donations of food, and raising our profile in the area.


Some statistics which give a flavour of our work in 2015:


During the year, 655 people visited our centre, almost half of these were families with children. The majority of people we saw had ‘overstayed’ their visas, and consequently had no recourse to public funds and no right to work. 14% of our visitors were homeless, 18% were living with friends or family or in churches, and 18% were destitute.


Our pro-bono advisers provided 482 immigration advice sessions (we often give follow-up support such as referrals to trusted solicitors) and 324 welfare advice sessions, which includes applying to social services for housing and financial support for destitute families with children.


A third of our clients cannot support themselves and are forced to rely on support from friends, family, charities, churches or mosques, and some are without any help whatsoever. We have been able to provide the basics to those of our visitors who find themselves in such situations, including non-perishable foodstuff, as well as clothes, supplied by regular donations from people in the locality.


Since November, we have referred 13 people who were either sleeping, or faced the prospect of sleeping, in the streets to winter night shelters.


We applied to charities for hardship grants for 53 of our visitors, 40 of which were successful. These sums of money, although relatively small, can make a real difference in times of crisis.


And thanks to Martin, our kitchen manager, and our fantastic kitchen team, we have been able to serve 2,879 delicious hot meals each Monday throughout the year.


Future priorities:


HMSC is now looking for free office space, for up to four days a week. After the Monday drop-in sessions are over, there is a great deal of follow-up administrative work to do. Father Joe at St John Vianney, who has enabled HMSC to exist by giving us the use of the church’s downstairs community space for our drop in and its cellar for storage, has allowed us to operate a ‘pop-up’ office in the church building. However, we have fast outgrown this and desperately need somewhere more permanent. Any suggestions will be gratefully received.


Finally, if anyone wants to help us with a financial donation in 2016, please click the link below. Thank you!

http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/charity-web/charity/finalCharityHomepage.action?charityId=1009305

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