Summer has been an exciting time for our housing project – you may remember that we want to be able to offer housing to at least some of the twenty plus homeless asylum seekers who come to the dropin. They are homeless because their asylum claims have failed and they have been made to leave their Home Office provided rooms. Under the Right to Rent Act they’re not allowed to rent and we can’t rent for them – but we are officially allowed to provide a “hostel” – which is why we describe our caravan as such. The caravan is expensive so we’re looking for a house to rent or buy.
Purchase became possible when a lady offered us £100,000 – a surprisingly difficult sum to spend in Portsmouth where houses cost more than that. Could we find another donor who would top up the generous offer? No we couldn’t.
We began to think about renting – a house was available at a very good price - would the donor let us spend her money on rent? She didn’t feel she could. While we were still exploring possibilities the available house went to another organisation. Disappointing but there will be others.
CHARITABLE INCORPORATED ORGANISATION (CIO)
Friends Without Borders was registered as a charity in 2001 and the trustees are personally liable for any debts.
Since 2001 a new sort of charity has become available – a CIO – in which liability for debt is limited. With thought of house purchase or rental in mind we decided to convert our charity to this more modern structure. The application has just been submitted to the Charity Commission and will probably take five months to process – so no immediate change. The “new” charity will be officially “Friends Without Borders (Portsmouth) CIO” but there will be no difference to the Friends Without Borders you know and love.
We received a heartening boost to our fund-raising when a local farmer (the one with the yurts I mentioned in the last Occasional News) organised a Feast for his friends – a barbecue in his woods.
It was a lovely summer evening, the food was delicious, I made a short appeal and Majid Dhana, an ex-client, gave a poem he had composed. The evening raised a wonderful £1,250 which is particularly welcome as June, July and August have been a busy and expensive months with over £3,000 given to needy clients in each of them.
A FAMILY IN NEED
One particular example of need is an adult family (mother and three children all in their twenties) who have lost their case and so are signing up with the Government for return.
It’s a Red Cross case and I don’t know all the details – it only came to our attention when the Red Cross asked us to help accommodate them for three nights. We did and the Red Cross made the application to which the government is supposed to respond in 48 hours. It’s now over a week later and there has still been no response. What does one do? We are still paying for emergency accommodation.
Out of the blue I was invited to give a lecture at a Sonnenburg Association conference in the St George’s Building of Portsmouth University. The association is non-political and promotes international understanding - it started in 1949 at Sonnenburg in the Harz Mountains.
The conference was titled “Human Rights and Democracy: Threats and Opportunities for the 2020s” and my subject, of course, was immigration. It was rather enjoyable to step slightly outside my usual fund-raising talks and very enjoyable to think about the opportunities for reform within the system. The lecture will be posted in the News section of our website if you're interested!
The St George’s Building is in St Thomas Street, as is Portsmouth Cathedral where we held our Vigil for Refugees during Refugee Week in June. It was slightly less busy this year, though we had a steady flow of people.
SAD BUT LOVELY
Barbara Froud, a long standing supporter, died in July. Donations in her memory raised over £600 for destitute asylum-seekers which would have pleased her greatly I think.
Very best wishes,