By Ana Naomi de Sousa
Desperate families of asylum seekers need donations or risk facing a cold and hungry Christmas.
The Lewisham Refugee Network (LRN) is appealing urgently for donations for asylum seekers and their families who have no way of supporting themselves.
With their current level of donations, LRN provide 10 packages per week. As 25 families depend on them they are only able to provide each with food on alternate weeks. “It’s so difficult telling a mother of three that there’s no food for her this week because we have run out. It shouldn’t be like that, ” said Jasintha Ngobefa, a qualified nurse who now works full time at LRN.
Amongst other activities such as English classes, legal advice and sewing classes, LRN offers asylum seekers packages of basic necessities – rice, cooking oil, toilet paper, baby food, tea and sugar – donated by Lewisham Churches for Asylum Seekers, which is run by volunteers from local churches.
Families can also collect other donated items such as prams, baby clothes, shoes and warm jackets.
It is illegal for asylum seekers – who have not yet obtained refugee status – to work. Hence, all of the families on the food programme have been identified as urgent cases since they cannot support themselves.
The asylum seekers at LRN come from all over the world, including Vietnam, Somalia and Albania.
This Christmas, LRN hope to be able to provide the families, many of whom have young children and babies, with Christmas hampers, including not just food but also small gifts, sweets and chocolates – “Something nice, something for them to remember,” Ngobefa said.
“We want them to have a real Christmas.” – Jasintha Ngobefa, LRN worker