A BIT OF BACKGROUND INFORMATION
As mentioned in our post regarding memberships a few weeks ago, our members voted PAFRAS as our chosen charity for the year. £2 from each membership fee will be donated to PAFRAS – which stands for Positive Action For Refugees and Asylum Seekers. PAFRAS are based in Leeds, and works with works with asylum seekers, refugees and local communities in Leeds and the surrounding area.
PAFRAS focuses on providing humanitarian support for asylum seekers who are homeless, without food or money and prevented from improving their situation by government policy. PAFRAS runs a twice-weekly drop-in, at which they provide a hot meal and casework support among other services. They currently receive an average of just under 700 visits each month. The drop-in service is run every Tuesday and Thursday morning at a church hall in Harehills, Leeds.
At the drop in sessions, individuals can receive food parcels, meals, clothing and essential toiletries. PAFRAS themselves have 2 part time advice workers available (although charitable grants for these posts is nearly at an end) and there are also advice/support workers available at each drop in from the British Red Cross, York St. Health Practice, Skyline HIV charity and Touchstone mental health charity. All of these workers are a first port of call and often have to make referrals to more specialist services (if their rules actually allow them to help a destitute asylum seeker) including the LASSN Grace Hosting project which organises volunteers to provide short term emergency accommodation (http://lassn.org.uk/short-stop/). Given this, PAFRAS also provide money where possible for destitute asylum seekers to travel to important appointments.
All of this is expensive and by law cannot be funded by any part of government. All contributions that go directly to the individuals themselves are vital. The current charitable funding situation however means that the funding for the people who actually organise and deliver all of this is also running out fast.
WHAT WE AIM TO DO.
Whilst our primary objective is to raise money for PAFRAS through our membership fee and also other events that we hope to organise throughout the year, we also feel strongly about offering more. As a group, we want to be proactive in our support of PAFRAS, and recently one of our members, Ian, went along to a meeting with two representatives from PAFRAS to see what other assistance we could offer.
One of the great stories of the community spirit of St. Pauli is that of the work that fan groups do with refugees and asylum seekers, including buying them a match ticket and transporting them to and from the ground. This is exactly what St. Pauli is about, and we wanted to replicate this in Yorkshire. So one of the things we hope to do from our first streams at Wharf Chambers is to invite those people who have contacted PAFRAS to come and watch a game with us at Wharf Chambers. We will offer free Yorkshire St. Pauli membership and sign people in as guests at Wharf Chambers, watch the football and hopefully be able to provide food and drink as well. We’ll also cover the cost of transport to and from Wharf Chambers.
We’ll also be having regular collections of clothing items, non perishable foods and essential toiletries during our streams, which we will then pass onto PAFRAS to hand out to those in need. So before you come to a meeting, why not have a look through your wardrobe and see if there’s anything you don’t wear anymore?
In addition to that, we will be looking at other ways in which we can raise funds – such as a gig during the course of the season. As and when these events are organised, we will post information on our website and publish details in upcoming editions of the fanzine.
This is a truly great cause, and you can support it by becoming a Yorkshire St. Pauli member today. Membership details can be found on the link below: