Who We Support

We support refugees and asylum seekers in several different categories:

Syrian and Afghan families living in Chichester and closeby, here on government resettlement schemes. The families from Syria arrived after fleeing their homes and then spending years in refugee camps in countries such as Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. They arrive with refugee status, so the parents are allowed to work. Families here on the Afghan Relocation and Assistance Policy were rescued straight from Afghanistan due to their links to British armed forces putting their lives in danger. They apply for visas when they are placed in Chichester and are almost immediately allowed to work. We help the Syrian and Afghan families to settle in, intergrate, learn English, find work and feel like valuable members of the community.

Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC) living locally. Many have fled from war and persecution in countries such as Sudan, Eritrea and Iran, and travelled alone for several years, experiencing and seeing traumatic and dangerous situations, before staying in coastal camps in France and Belgium and finally making it accross the channel to the UK. We provide them with English tutors and pastoral support, take them on social activities and accompany them to appointments. One great source of support for boys is our amazing Nations United football team.

Asylum-seeking families, placed in the area while their asylum applications are processed. These families often arrive deeply traumatised, with no English and no idea of how to navigate their new surroundings or systems. The only support they get from the Government is a place to live and £38 a week to live on, so this group are in conserable need. We firstly get them food, winter clothes and shoes, and help them avoid destitution. Then we help them to access services (GPs, schools etc), start to build their social network, give them specialist English lessons and support them through mental health crises.

Individual adult asylum-seekers and Appeal Rights Exhausted (ARE) people. This group includes young people who started their journeys when they were children and eventually arrived in the UK after they turned 18. We support them to avoid desititution, with a small income and some volunteers offering them a place to stay, and support them through legal processes. If asylum seekers’ applications and appeals are rejected by the Home Office, they are given no income and no accomodation by the government, and as they are not allowed to work (or study), destitution is unavoidable. This group is particularly vulnerable to modern slavery and exploitation. Home Office decisions on asylum applications should take six months or less but usually take much longer – we know young people who have been waiting several years for a decision. Meanwhile, their life is on hold, their talents, skills and enthusiasm going to waste, and it is difficult to begin processing trauma and healing from it when you have no idea whether you will be able to stay in what has become your new home. By the time a decision is made, some asylum seekers have met their life partners in the UK and started a family, but this does not mean they will be allowed to stay. This is contrary to the Human Right to a Family Life.

Visit our What We Do page to find out more about the type of support offer.

People are arriving in our area in great need, having lost everything and suffered severe trauma. We’re committed to welcoming them and helping them to survive before supporting them to integrate and thrive.

The refugee crisis is the biggest in our time since World War II. We are taking action by:

  • Supporting newly-arrived asylum seeking families to avoid destitution. We also give these often deeply traumatised families wrap-around support and, if needed, language tuition. Once they are safe and settled, we support them with social activities to improve their wellbeing, and ensure they are ready to maximise livelihood opportunities if they are granted asylum and allowed to work.
  • Supporting refugee families (who have leave to remain and the right to work) to integrate into and contribute to their new community, find work and rebuild their lives.
  • Providing social and pastoral support for unaccompanied asylum seeking children.
  • Supporting individual asylum seekers to avoid destitution and help prepare them for their future, whatever that may hold.

You can donate here if you wish to help. And we’re always looking for more volunteers.

Are you a refugee or asylum seeker?

If you are a refugee or asylum seeker staying in the Chichester area, we would be very happy to welcome you into our community. We hold lively drop-in sessions every week, where you can come and get to know us, practise your English and connect with local people. For security reasons we don’t post the time and location of our drop-ins online, but we will gladly share them with you via email.

If you are interested in coming along, please get in touch with us at contact@sanctuaryinchichester.org or contact us on Facebook.

We really hope to meet you soon.

Sanctuary in Chichester, registered charity no. 1181855, is part of the City of Sanctuary movement.