We started the year with the awful news that 200 children were going missing from the Home Office’s ‘care’ in hotel accommodation, presumably having been taken by people who will be exploiting them in unthinkable ways. The negligence and disregard for the welfare of these children by the state who should be safeguarding them is shocking in the extreme. Despite our continuous campaigning against the Rwanda plan, the government pushed ahead. While it was a great relief when the Supreme Court came down against this cruel policy, it offered only a short respite in an ever more inhumane treatment of people who come to these shores to build a new life.

However, 2023 was also a year of beautiful community gatherings and of working hard at keeping people housed. We were working hard to turn the idea of bringing a community of people together to welcome strangers hand on heart and conquer hostility with love into a large, beautiful and concrete reality. We saw people we have helped take their next steps towards independence and thriving.

These are just some of our achievements in 2023:

  • Rent on three flats which gave 4 people a stable home and in which they’ve all thrived, their physical and mental health has improved enormously and they have found their place in our community.
  • Paying for a few nights in a hostel for 5 homeless migrants who were sleeping rough: in a car park, in a public park or on the beach for example.
  • Moving costs for someone moving into their first home having been granted Leave to Remain.
  • Supplying a SIM card so that a young Sudanese man can contact his family in Darfur.
  • Help with rent for a man unable to work due to an accident at work.
  • Weekly subsistence payments of £60 to 9 people with no income.
  • Contribution to fuel bills for someone on low income.
  • Paying for the internet in 5 Home Office provided houses (for about 30 men in total) – the government does not provide this essential service.

Having a stable place to live, a supportive community and access to communication technology was immensely valuable in helping our residents 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 2023.