An asylum seeker charity based in Peckham and Elephant and Castle is appealing for backers to help keep it afloat, after losing nearly £40,000 of funding.
The Southwark Day Centre for Asylum Seekers assists some 600 clients with 40 volunteers, and says it “helps with the relief of poverty and distress” and promotes health and education for asylum seekers and refugees.
The charity’s coordinator, Pauline Nandoo, said: “We’re still in a critical situation and we’re fundraising like crazy. We are finding fewer agencies who can work with us and we may have to lose staff.
“We have about 80 families with young children and we are very conscious that many of them don’t have anything and are in desperate need.
“Our strategy is to raise funds that might not be huge amounts but will see us through while we look for long-term investment.
“We lost £30,000 from Southwark Council after they cut spending on youth services earlier in the year, which was the largest chunk of funding we were getting. Then we lost £8,000 from the Community Choice Programme.”
One of the volunteers, nineteen-year-old Jonas Wesfendorf, said: “The majority of the asylum seekers we help come from Iran, Nigeria, Afghanistan and Syria and we saw an increase in demand last year with what’s happening in the Middle East.
“We depend on donations and we work with other charities. For example Fair Share collect food for our food bank and we get donations of food from supermarkets.
“We’re now looking for new donors who can help us, but it is proving difficult.”
The Day Centre has been open for 20 years and offers a food bank, a Citizens Advice drop-in service, NHS nurse visits, English lessons, and parenting support. It’s three centres are based in Copleston Road in Peckham, New Kent Road and Peckham Park Road.
Southwark Council’s cut in the annual grant it gives to the day centre came in to affect in April at the beginning of the current financial year.
The council’s annual budget, which determined these cuts, was decided in February. The budget saw Southwark Council challenged with finding £37m of “efficiency savings” over the next four years, due to a dramatic reduction in funding from central government.
Volunteers will run for funds
This Sunday a team of volunteers from the Asylum Seeker Day Centre will embark on the London Vitality 10km Run to help raise the funds it needs.
The team includes six volunteers from the charity, incusing Jonas, as well as one client, one trustee, and Liberal Democrat councillor for the Cathedrals ward, David Noakes.
The Day Centre group have so far raised £1,770, nearly 60 per cent of their £3,000 target.
Visit justgiving.com and search ‘SDCAS’s runners 2016’ to donate on their fundraising parade.