West End Refugee Service

Services WERS provides WERS’ approach has been to establish services not provided for asylum seekers and refugees as part of their statutory support.

Services to address the urgent practical needs of its clients are provided alongside services designed to improve well-being and psychological health

Drop-in advice sessions are run by multi-lingual support staff and a small number of trained volunteers, 20-25 clients are seen at each session. Clients present with a wide range of issues and problems. Advice includes signposting to other agencies of which the client may be unaware, liaising with solicitors (but not giving Immigration advice), training and employment advice, resolving support problems and offering help to destitute clients.

Home visits can be arranged for clients unable to visit the project. The Clothing Store offers good quality second-hand clothing, bedding, kitchen equipment and toys to clients free of charge. Everything in the store is donated to the project. WERS continues to receive a huge amount of support from churches and other faith groups across the region, universities, schools and numerous individuals. There is also a great deal of information available in the store, where clients can pick up leaflets and details of other projects and special events. 150-180 clients visit the store each week. Many destitute clients seek help from the project and small emergency payments and food parcels are provided, when funds permit, from the Emergency Hardship Fund. More information on the fund can be found in the How to Help section of the website. The Befriending Scheme receives referrals from health professionals and other agencies working with asylum seekers and refugees. WERS is always looking to recruit new volunteer befrienders to visit clients regularly. Volunteers offer the clients all kinds of support – practising English conversation, accompanying them to appointments, going out on trips etc.

WERS aims to put the widely differing skills of its volunteers to good use. Some clients become very depressed and fearful, particularly when they are facing the prospect of being returned to their home country and are frightened that their lives will be endangered. Some have never started to come to terms with the ill-treatment and sexual violence they have suffered. WERS runs a Counselling Service and employs a part-time counsellor at the project. Through interpreters, clients have the opportunity to talk about their problems to an experienced professional in their own language. A number of agencies run weekly surgeries at WERS including the Move-on team from Your Homes Newcastle, Education Welfare and BME Welfare Rights. WERS’ Education, training and awareness-raising programme offers talks and presentations on asylum issues to local groups and schools. One of the WERS staff, himself a refugee, works with the Project Director, developing new ways to disseminate information to a wider audience.

West End Refugee Service St Philip's Vicarage St Philip's Close Arthur's Hill Newcastle upon Tyne NE4 5JE

Tel: 0191 273 7482

Fax: 0191 256 7862

Email: wers@btinternet.com