RAY Chair's 2018 Report

Our aims are twofold - to advance education and relieve financial hardship amongst migrants, those seeking asylum and those granted refugee status; and to advance the education of the public about the issues relating to refugees and those seeking asylum. We have continued to work towards both these aims in the year April 2017 to March 2018.

We have seen another year of increased need for the services we provide, a year of expansion and growth. Two years ago, I reported that about 40 people each week attended the Hub and our service users came from 8 different countries of origin. Last year, I reported 80 people from 12 countries of origin. This year has seen another expansion with around 120 people receiving our services, and these come from 18 different countries of origin. In other words, the number of those who come to us has tripled since the end of 2016. We now have as well over 100 volunteers. This has been challenging to staff - in particular the complexity of needs and the range of different languages as well as the recruitment, deployment and support to our volunteers.

In order to meet this, by the end of March 2018 we had :

 increased staff hours

 developed new services, including Women’s Health sessions and a Mother and Baby group.

 Taken the Youth Group on a weekend residential trip to Whitby

 increased the number of English language classes to 4 at the Hub

 Introduced a new Database system to keep records up to date and facilitate evaluation reports

 continued to work with the Local Authority and the Refugee Council to welcome and help settle a number of families and individuals from Syria

We continue to provide signposting to key agencies, eg Citizen's Advice York, the Education Department, legal advice, Food Bank, housing, City of Sanctuary. We are seeing an increasing number of families and individuals with complex immigration needs, who we are able to support by referring to or liaising with other agencies, and offering help from our Hardship fund where appropriate.

in addition, we ran in partnership with Family Matters a further parenting course, this time for parents of teenagers, in the Autumn of 2017.

We were very fortunate during 2017 to 2018 to be chosen by the then Lord Mayor, Cllr Barbara Boyce, as one of her three charities for the year. This brought new learning and new experiences to us as we worked with our colleagues in Keep Your Pet and in Hearing Dogs for Deaf People to organise fund raising events throughout the year. We are extremely grateful to Cllr Boyce, and the Civic Party, but particularly to her for her hard work in searching out fundraising opportunities, organising many and attending all of the events. This raised nearly £15,000, which will provide direct support to our service users .

All our services, from the Hub to the Youth club to the individual family support depend on our volunteers. Without their efforts, none of our work would be possible. Volunteers have enabled us to expand the service we are able to offer, to provide more individual support to families, individuals and children. We continue to be grateful to them for their energy, commitment and hard work.

I also would like to thank our supporters who have been so busy raising funds for RAY and raising awareness of the plight of asylum seekers and refugees in York. They have raised fantastic amounts of money between them, enabling us to offer a much more flexible service and to meet individual needs.

Finally, I have to thank Carrie Wheater and her staff - Carole, John and Zainah - for their hard work, enthusiasm and commitment which has made it possible for us to continue to grow our services and meet the growing needs of our community.

RAY is always interested in hearing from those who would like to become involved in our organisation in some way. So, if you would be interested in volunteering, fundraising or becoming involved in some other way then please do let us know!