We faced numerous challenges in 2022. The pandemic seemed to have created a kind of hangover for the Home Office. There is an enormous backlog to be dealt with. Whilst waiting for your asylum claim to be heard, you have to live somewhere. Despite the constant pressure from civil society, the one thing that did not give was the hostile environment. Families, single women and men were housed across three hotels in Brighton and Hove. And the world was not becoming a friendlier place. The Taliban retook Kabul and the refugees who were abandoned to their fate began to arrive in the UK, along with desperate Ukrainians.

However, we rose to the challenges. The Jollof Café buzzed with people from the hotels building a social space for themselves, welcoming in their new neighbours. Together we found lawyers and provided emotional and financial support. We raised money to house people and found local hosts. The very existence of this project is a challenge to the politics of hate. The beauty of your collective action is living proof that another way as possible. It turns the slogan “refugees welcome” into practical solidarity. If you have to cross a border because you need to rebuild your life, we have a project that will bring you home.

In 2022, we:

  • Helped several people with the almost-impossible task of finding a new home and moving house.
  • Continued to support the residents living in the NASS houses by: providing essential wifi (not deemed essential by the Home Office); helping with medical appointments; reporting issues to the private company running the houses on behalf of the residents.
  • Supported a traumatised asylum seeker with severe physical and mental health problems, abandoned by the Home Office in totally unsuitable accommodation.
  • Assisted a number of people with finding NHS dental treatment.
  • Found a host family for a homeless asylum seeker through Rooms for Refugees.
  • Distributed £5000 to a number of our beneficiaries to help with the cost-of-living crisis.
  • Continued to support the Jollof Café, which is run by and for refugees and asylum seekers, where 40-50 delicious lunches are served every week and which acts as an important meeting point for greeting new people. Vital information and help is given in relation to asylum claims, we assess people for ongoing financial support from T4K and homeless migrants can come for practical support and advice.
  • Helped residents placed in the family hotel to get access to housing lawyers and subsequently a move out of the hotel and also found lawyers for their asylum claims.
  • Accommodated and supported a seriously ill young woman and helped her in her battle to access the NHS treatment she is entitled to.

Having a stable place to live, a supportive community and access to communication technology was immensely valuable in helping them navigate the UK’s hostile border. All of these achievements were made possible by the contributions of hundreds of local people, chipping in money, time and expertise to help extend a hand of friendship to people rebuilding their lives in our city.

Read more in our full Annual Report 2022 (April – December)