Refugee charity had its busiest year ever in 2016 and warns 2017 will be worse
Positive Action in Housing says 2017 will be even more challenging as it releases its 2016 annual report
A Scottish charity helped refugees, migrants and people from ethnic minorities claim almost £1 million they were entitled to last year, as well as providing 19,018 nights of emergency shelter.
Positive Action in Housing, based in Glasgow, raised £904,207 from child tax credits, working tax credits, benefit entitlements and savings such as from utility bills in 2015/16 for 2,333 people, recording a 28% increase in numbers of families and individuals needing advice, representation or humanitarian support
Launching the charity’s annual report chief executive Robina Qureshi warned that the refugee crisis meant the charity was forced to step up in 2016 to deliver its strongest ever humanitarian response yet since it was found in 1995 and that 2017 doesn’t look like being any easier.
“In 2017, things will get more challenging and we need to be prepared for that. People are ready to make refugees welcome, but our governments’ responses to the refugee crisis are inhumane and badly out of touch with views of their own citizens,” she said.
In 2017, things will get more challenging and we need to be prepared for that
“We have observed the shameful way they have played short-term politics with the lives of people fleeing war and repression, by using xenophobic rhetoric to chase headlines. As part of our work we also seek to hold politicians to account and to correct and distorted media portrayals of refugees.
“21 years on we remain passionate about our cause, working for some of the most voiceless and disenfranchised people in our society. We will continue to strive to bring about substantive, permanent improvement in their lives – whether it is through providing food and shelter to the destitute; rehousing families who are homeless or overcrowded; or improving financial skills to help clients escape poverty.”
In 2015/2016 Positive Action in Housing, which had nine full time equivalent staff members and 49 office based volunteers, had an income of £489,141 and an expenditure of £482,160.
Its Money Skills Project assisted 896 people from 48 different countries, of whom 86% were classed as living in poverty using Scottish Government and Poverty Truth Commission thresholds. The total income raised for them was £561,609 from benefits, grants and debt reduction work.
Its New Migrants Action Project worked with 715 people to help them secure paid work and also helped generate an additional £337,085 by helping those access the benefits they were entitled to.
The charity also paid out £42,200 in crisis payments to 372 families and individuals over the past 12 months to buy items including food, medicine, nappies and essential travel saving them from destitution and hunger.
Its Frontline Homelessness Advice Service helped 241 people move between housing systems, access social housing, challenge poor housing conditions and hate crimes.
Outside of Scotland the charity left its mark.
Its Room for Refugees scheme, a network of hosts including other charities across the UK, provided 19,018 nights of emergency shelter, 5,343 of which were in Scotland – up from just 953 nights in 2014.
Further afield, it recruited 202 international medics, nurses, and general volunteers in Lesvos, Greece to support the wider humanitarian effort to assist 500,000 refugees who crossed the Aegan Sea from Turkey to Greece.
Dr Chris Robinson, chair of Positive Action in Housing, praise Qureshi and her staff for their response to the public’s awareness of the world’s worst refugee crisis since World War 2.
“This charity continues to use resource wisely and effectively,” she added.
“I am very proud to chair this small, passionate and essentially pioneering charity.
“With the world changing in front of our eyes and the needs of refugees and migrants growing by the day, 2017 is set to be a year of even greater challenges.”
Positive Action in Housing is appealing for donations to its 2017 Emergency Hardship Fund. If you wish to donate you can do so at mydonate.bt.com.