Thursday, December 20, 2007

Free Money

Asylum seekers queuing up outside Lunar House in Croydon to sign on once a month.
The people in my parish are always very generous to those in need.

We always say to people in the parish in the newletter that if they need financial help at this time of year to contact me or a member of our SVP. Despite offering free money we don't normally get much of a take up. Last year we had a family were the mother's boyfriend came home drunk and smashed up the lavatory, so there was no loo and the flat was flooded, we paid for it to be replaced.

The normal callers go to "Crisis" and are kept in the warm and have plenty to eat. There are occasionally people who have spent there benefit money and others who have a problem with any gathering of people, who only feel safe on their own.

The big draw on money this year has been the asylum seekers. I share my palatial sized house with an organisation called Voices in Exile, who look after them here, they have an office in the basement. Voices in Exile deal with over 250 people. About 30 of them receive nothing from the state, no money, no food stamps, nothing for accommodation. Some end up by sleeping in the open, others fit in to the most dreadful derelict accommodation or are taken in by strangers. A trust supports Voices in Exile and can find for those in the worst situation £20 a week, for food, accommodation, clothing, out of this have to find the train fare to Croydon once a month to sign on as an asylum seeker. This year we have been able to double this meagre sum for Christmas week.

The law says asylum seekers can't work, if you are mother with young children the state will find accommodation for your children, and you can live with them but you get nothing. In Brighton, if you are young and attractive you can always sell your body, I have known both young women and a few young boys in this situation. However if you have self respect or are a good Christian or Muslim or have been the victim of torture and rape it is often not an option you really want to take.

Amongst the asylum seekers I have known in Brighton have been former ambassadors, scientists, doctors and camel herders.
If you want free money we only give it to people in the parish, we can't do the whole world!


Anonymous said...

Fr. Ray,

It's interesting that you have such close involvement with refugees in your local community. It means you're very well placed to answer the following question:

Of all the people with refugee status that you come across, would you say that the great majority are genuinely seeking asylum (from war, torture, unjust imprisonment, etc.), would prefer to return home if this did not put them in danger, and would never have sought to live in the UK at all if conditions at home were not truly intolerable?

Fr Ray Blake said...

The vast majority I am sure are genuine, though few of them meet the Kafkaesque government requirements.

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