Appeal to help fund '˜night shelter' scheme for destitute asylum seekers in Leeds

A project to offer round the year shelter to destitute asylum seekers in Leeds has appealed for support.

Night Shelter Leeds, part of West Yorkshire Destitute Asylum Network, will meet tonight at West Yorkshire Playhouse.

A spokeswoman said: “The WYDAN Winter Shelter brought support from the local community of Garforth. Volunteers came from the other churches as well as our own church. Cielo Café offered vouchers, the leisure centre gave free showers, the local pub cooked a wholesome pudding, Tesco gave us a £20 voucher and other individuals have made donations of food and money.

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“During the week our guests became our friends and we were moved by their plight, endurance and their gratitude.

“The night shelter didn’t seem like it was something done for our guests, more with our guests.”

Helen Sweet, volunteer for the project, explained: “People seeking refugee protection in the UK are often at risk of homelessness and poverty. The UK’s asylum system is complex, and there are a number of points in the process where, because people have no recourse to public funds and no right to work, there is a risk of destitution.

“With no right to work and no access to public funds, people who have come here to seek protection from persecution in their home country are forced to rely on charities, faith groups, family or friends for food, shelter and other basic necessities. If people do not have access to these safety nets, they face the indignity and fear of life on the streets.”

The shelter opened in December. Last year they hosted 23 men but over 17 weeks. This year, they have provided 473 nights of accommodation to 26 men.

The scheme, which receives no public funding, aims to provide a safe and welcoming overnight shelter to destitute asylum seekers and to raise awareness amongst the public on the issue.

Night Shelter Leeds will meet tonight at 6pm at West Yorkshire Playhouse to hold an information session.

Email them at [email protected]