Refugee hub opens in Portsmouth offering barber, GP, legal advice and support for people fleeing persecution

A REFUGEE hub has opened in the city offering support for refugees and asylum seekers.

Monday, 22nd November 2021, 12:32 pm
Updated Monday, 22nd November 2021, 3:21 pm

The scheme, led by Portsmouth City of Sanctuary, is at St Luke’s Church in Greetham Street in the city centre.

Named the Refugee Sanctuary Hub, it is backed by the Medaille Trust, Citizen's Advice Portsmouth (CAP), sex worker support group VISTA at Harbour Church, and Baby Basics.

Organisers hope it gives one place for people needing support after escaping violence and persecution abroad.

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The launch of the Refugee Sanctuary Hub. Picture: Portsmouth City of Sanctuary

Phil Marshall is the Immigration Service project manager at Citizens Advice Portsmouth.

He said: ‘CAP is delighted to provide support services to the Refugee Sanctuary Hub, which comes at a time where support for the asylum seeker and refugee community is critical.

‘We are proud to be part of this fantastic collaborative community initiative.’

Support for refugees in the area has been bolstered since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan, with new organisations springing up offering help.

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The hub offers caseworkers looking at school admissions, LGBTQ+ advice, help with registering with a GP surgery, and access to community groups.

Each week the hub hopes to offer the services of an immigration solicitor, a barber, GP, and baby bank.

Diane Urquhart, from Baby Basics, said: ‘This partnership means that we can get to the real core of the needs of people of the city, and we’ll be able to take quicker and slicker action to provide a better service, at the same time as gaining a better understanding of the families’ needs.’

Miriam Hargreaves, from VISTA, added: ‘We’re thrilled about it, we at VISTA are about supporting women in the sex industry, offering a safe space for them here, whatever they’ve come from, people can come together for care and support, and we are really pleased about working in one place with our partner organisations.’

Babette Clarke, from the Medaille Trust, said the ‘partnership is going to bring such a beautiful space of openness for anybody in the community that needs help’.

She said: ‘That’s what is really important – that anyone can turn up and be treated with respect and dignity, and hopefully we can signpost them to get the help they need, or just come along and have a warm cup of tea and a chat.’

The hub is open each Monday from 10.30am-12.30pm and is fuelled by donations. For more and to find out how to donate, email [email protected]

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