Business plan to guide development, fundraising, governance and training during 2022 and into 2023
Sanctuary in Chichester (SiC) is a small, local charity established, in 2017, to ‘relieve poverty and suffering among refugees and asylum seekers in Chichester and the surrounding area, in particular but not exclusively by providing practical, social and pastoral support to refugees and asylum seekers.’
By the last quarter of 2019 our mission had developed a focus on providing such support to: the families housed in the Chichester area as part of the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme (SVPRS); unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC) in the care of West Sussex County Council (WSCC); and various other individuals, most recently asylum seeking families placed in the area by the Home Office when the area was designated an Asylum Dispersal Area (ADA).
During 2020 and 2021 the number of beneficiaries increased not least due to the Afghan Resettlement programmes. In March 2022 the government announced a new Homes for Refugees programme aimed at welcoming refugees from the war in Ukraine. Early indications are that a significant number of Ukrainian refugees will be housed in the Chichester area and with very complex needs thus putting additional, significant pressure on Sanctuary’s resources.
SiC is entirely funded by altruistic giving and grants from local bodies and grant-making trusts. At the beginning of 2022 the charity predicted the need to raise £77,000 to maintain current levels of service and achieve the 2022 objectives as set out in this plan. With the new Homes for Refugees programme this forecast needs to be revised up taking the figure to near £90,000.
Strategic focus for the 2022/2023 business year (and beyond)
To give refugees and asylum seekers relocated to the Chichester area the best possible opportunity to settle, feel safe and become fully integrated into their new, adopted community.
Central and local government provide a range of basic housing and financial support to individuals and families according to their circumstances and immigration status, but this falls far short of the full range of practical, social and pastoral support needed to enable people to settle, feel safe and become fully integrated into their new, adopted communities, or in the case of asylum seekers to have a reasonable quality of life whilst awaiting the outcome of their application (which in many cases can take several years).
Objectives for this business plan
- Ensure refugees and asylum seekers have a safe and comfortable place to live
- Ensure refugees and asylum seekers have the English language skills necessary to live independent, integrated lives in their new, adopted community.
- Ensure refugees and asylum seekers feel safe and welcome in their new, adopted community.
- Ensure refugees and asylum seekers with permission to work have the best possible opportunities to find a job.
- Ensure refugees and asylum seekers have access to local services and a range of social activities to assist their integration.
- Ensure the hosts of families hosted as part of the Homes for refugees programme are fully supported to allow them, in turn, to fully support those they have kindly offered accommodation to. (This is a complex issue as each family and each host will require different support. Sanctuary staff and volunteers will need to rise to this new challenge).
Services provided by Sanctuary in Chichester volunteers:
- Nations United
- English language tutoring
- Pathways to Work (new)
- Direct support to individuals (ARE)
- Pathways to Independence (new for 2022)
Sanctuary volunteers organise and manage a weekly ‘drop-in’ centre in a local church hall that gives refugees and asylum seekers an opportunity to mix and socialise with each other and with Sanctuary volunteers, both at the Drop-In and occasionally on outings to local places of interest. Often, food supplied by both volunteers and/or refugees is shared.
The drop-in provides a focus for representatives of local services (e.g. Job Centre) to meet informally with refugees and asylum seekers, to impart knowledge and advice.
The drop-in provides volunteers with an opportunity for networking and mutual support.
Drop-In development plans and challenges:
The greatest challenge for the drop-in is the unpredictability of demand caused by more families and individuals arriving, some with very complex needs. Its growth has been exponential in recent months with now regularly 60+ people attending each week.
This raises issues of safeguarding and security both of the attendees and the premises themselves as being part of a church they are generally open to anyone who wishes to visit.
To help attendees develop the skills and understanding that can lead to greater integration, plans are in place for more structured men’s and women’s discussion/storytelling group sessions.
Following the lifting of C-19 restrictions that severely changed the way Drop-In and all services were delivered the Drop-In has re-opened to allow everyone the space to meet as outlined above.
Ensuring that all refugees living locally are fully aware of the availability and benefits of the Drop-In will take some effort by the volunteers involved and this is ongoing.
Nations United is a football-based project for young men, provided in partnership with the University of Chichester, who supply a venue and coaching. The University provides these free of charge and all other costs are met by a grant from Sussex Community Foundation.
Initially established for the unaccompanied asylum seeker children looked after by WSCC to meet, socialise and learn football skills, it has become popular with a wider group of young men in their ‘network’, often individuals who arrived as UASC but are now over 18.
Each week Sanctuary volunteers, supported by University coaches, provide a football training session for everyone who attends. Sanctuary also pays for a coach.
During University term time Nations United players (two teams) compete in a local, six-a-side tournament with University and other local teams.
Nations United development plans and challenges
Nations United has proven very popular now that C-19 restrictions are lifted with around 30 attendees at weekly training and matches played against local teams once or twice each week.
Nations United is seen as presenting wider opportunities for its participants and others to gain a wider range of social and practical skills beyond proficiency at football.
Sussex Community Foundation have provided 3-year funding for the continuation of the weekly activities and to exploit the potential that these regular sports-based events provide to our other service users, such as opportunities to get involved in Nations United coaching sessions, competitive matches etc, as match officials, coaches, and staff trained in First Aid and Health and Safety.
The planning and management of sport-based events requires a range of event planning and management skills and techniques.
The project is already part of our wider plan and new strategic direction for working in partnership with local Councils, training providers and employers to develop a ‘Pathways to Independence’ service. (See below)
The ‘tools and systems’ needed for this project will need to be developed by a new, paid member of staff before volunteers can be trained to use them to engage our service users in identifying their individual needs.
With the provision of additional funds, Sanctuary intends to develop and employ the means to give access to this full range of opportunities through mentoring, work placements and training opportunities to the refugees and asylum seekers it supports.
The ‘befriending’ needs of families and individuals varies from person to person and according to the level of support each receives from the local authorities, which in turn depends upon peoples’ immigration status as refugees or asylum seekers.
Sanctuary provides volunteers who ‘befriend’ families and some individuals when they come to our notice, to help them settle-in to their new homes and communities. This includes practical help such as transport, accompanied visits to local GPs and other services, and securing the help of interpreters when required.
Sanctuary volunteers ensure the houses provided to families are freshly painted and decorated and as fully equipped as possible.
Our befrienders also provide help such as; organising visits to the food and clothes bank, talking to local services on behalf of their allocated families, and help to understand banking and benefits provision.
Befrienders will often provide transport to the shops or other services including our drop-in, helping children with their homework and linking people up with other Sanctuary help such as English language tutoring.
Befriending Service development plans and challenges
Chichester has recently been designated by the Home Office as an Asylum Dispersal Area (ADA) resulting in the unexpected arrival of asylum-seeking families without support and with varied and sometimes very complex needs.
‘Befriending’ and supporting the host families involved in the new Homes for Refugees program will require some retraining of current volunteers, new communications channels and the recruitment of additional ‘befrienders’ and English language tutors.
Coordinating and governing our befriending service to be compliant with our safeguarding and other policies is time-consuming and complex and needs additional support so the charity has decided to extend the number of days worked by paid staff to 5 full working days each week.
A volunteer induction training programme continues to be developed and delivered as a matter of urgency to ensure compliance with our safeguarding policy and to meet the changing needs of beneficiaries.
ENGLISH LANGUAGE TUTORING
WSCC with the help of Home Office funding provides a level of English lessons to the SVPRS families but not asylum seekers. WSCC’s language provision is very limited in time and opportunity, and is a one-size-fits-all service only. Sanctuary volunteers supplement this through ESOL or other language support on a more personal, one-to-one basis.
English language tutoring development plans and challenges
Sanctuary’s language training is highly valued by local partners and recipients alike. Language training is currently in good shape albeit the current cohort of trainers are at capacity and despite a number of people coming forward as new volunteers they have not followed through to recruitment.
WSCC language training tends to discriminate against parents as there is no childcare facility enable both parents to attend. Many others do not regularly attend for that reason and in some cases fathers are absenting themselves to look after their children thus not developing the necessary language skills to allow them to secure work etc.
Our English language tutoring is run and staffed by volunteers who now benefit from a dedicated trustee who provides guidance, support and helps to develop learning resources.
PATHWAYS TO INDEPENDENCE
To achieve the strategic aim of helping refugees become fully integrated into their new, adopted community, Sanctuary trustees are increasing their resources. This programme aims to help each individual develop their own, bespoke, ‘Pathway to Independence’.
English language skills clearly play a vital role in this but other challenges exist also: many refugees find that the skills and qualifications acquired in their home country are not directly relevant or have become out of date or context now they are living in the UK.
Refugees need help to understand the ‘system’ of securing a job, to build their CV and experience through things like volunteering, work experience and/or training.
Pathways to Independence is a new, developing service for Sanctuary in Chichester. It comprises the following elements:
- Working with individuals to fully understand their personal aims and objectives for a life independent of state and charitable support as far as is possible depending on age, qualifications and fitness etc.
- We will capture their skills and qualifications and previous work experience, together with their ambitions for finding work.
- A ‘gap analysis’ that identifies the necessary areas of learning and development to help each individual stand the best chance of securing work/education/volunteering
- Working with local councils, training providers and employers plus other voluntary groups and businesses to develop a catalogue of opportunities or ‘steps on their individual pathways’.
Sanctuary has some limited HR knowledge and experience and a number of willing volunteers but the addition of dedicated professional expertise is required to launch this service properly.
DIRECT SUPPORT TO INDIVIDUALS (ARE)
Sanctuary provides financial and practical help to a small number of individuals whose immigration status is classed as ‘All Appeal Rights Exhausted’, but where the Home Office have granted permission for another (final) appeal.
Sanctuary in Chichester is entirely funded by altruistic giving and grants from charitable trusts.
To maintain current service levels we need to raise c.£90,000 year on year taking into account price/cost increases and the predicted additional costs mentioned above.
Currently all of our fundraising is carried out by our volunteers including writing and submitting bids, monitoring and evaluating grants received and seeking additional opportunities to fund both our day to day running and the projects that benefit those we help.
Many of our volunteers are also donors either personally or by organising local fundraising events.
This area of work is vital for fundraising, attracting and retaining volunteers and attracting and retaining loyal supporters. It encompasses PR, social media, a regular newsletter, our website (www.sanctuaryinchichester.org) and printed media.
Funds are used for the design and production of digital and printed materials and in future will need to be spent on initiatives such as targeted Facebook advertisements linking to and promoting our digital materials.
Chair of Trustees