The Catholic Parish of
Saint John Henry Newman

 Covering most of East Leeds

Action for Refugees Meeting

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Wednesday 22nd August 2018

Chairperson: Tony Pickles
Minutes: Nadin Keymist
Attending :
Claire O'Hora, Theresa Spellman, Jim Cohen, Trish Cohen, Jim Spellman, Bernadette Spellman, Anne Tracy, James Carroll, Stephanie Channa , Michael Hearns, Jacqueline Smith,

  • The meeting was opened with a prayer from Anne Tracy and a moment of reflection.
  • Stephanie was welcomed to the group and Katrina from WYDAN.
  • Due to time constraints, Katrina Burton spoke first and confirmed that she would do a talk at the Parish Breakfast on Sunday 23rd September and she will also be taking the training session for the Night Shelter volunteers on Wednesday 19th September.
    • Katrina confirmed that the shelter finished on 26th April2018 but the hope is that the shelter will be able to run all year round. She thanked all present (and those who enable the shelter to happen in the Parish) for their help and continued support.
    • The estimated cost of running the shelter all year is £45,000. The two major obstacles at present are cost and the availability of suitable premises.
    • Once the shelter finished in April the guests were back on the streets or sofa surfing.
    • Unfortunately some of the guests from last year will be returning this year as their circumstances still have not changed.
    • Newman Parish will be one of the first host organisations, when the shelter restarts in October. Historically, the first few weeks of the shelter are very quiet.
    • Bedding is provided by the programme but donations of toiletries and holdalls (medium sized bags) are welcome.
    • Katrina asked the volunteers to be flexible as too many volunteers can sometimes overwhelm the guests. The aim is to make both guests and volunteers feel comfortable to the point that one cannot tell who is the guest and who is the volunteer.
    • Volunteers can talk to the guests about a range of topics but cannot ask them their ‘story' and the circumstances that brought them to the UK. However, if the guests bring up this information then a conversation can take place. This will be covered more in the training.
    • As Manager of the shelter, Katrina has a duty of care towards both guests and volunteers. All the guests have been assessed and vetted. None of the guests have significant mental health issues, issues with alcohol or drug abuse or have displayed recent bouts of aggressive behaviour.
    • Volunteers do not need to know the status of the guests i.e. whether they are here in the UK legally or not. Referral agencies and Katrina have decided on guests' suitability for the programme.
    • During their stay the guests are usually willing to do odd jobs around the host property. This gives them an opportunity to feel useful and give something back to their hosts. Practical jobs like gardening, painting, tidying outside areas etc. are always welcomed tasks.

  • Barbara from Crossgates Methodist Church apologised that she couldn't make it to the meeting, but did send a comprehensive account of how the shelter was managed at Crossgates last year.
  • ACTION: Tony to send out the email to the group, highlighting relevant parts of Barbara's account.
  • Please refer to attachment entitled ‘Hosting Asylum Seekers'.

  • Anne gave feedback from a very positive meeting that she had with Rose from the Refugee Council. Anne was also updated on what both Tabita and Diane are currently doing.
  • ACTION: Anne to send more information about the meeting
  • Please refer to attachment entitled ‘Action Tabita and Diane and more'.

  • The Parish Breakfast is booked for 23rd September: 7.30 set up until 12.30 clean up. Most members of the group are able to attend for part of the event to help.

  • Tony has contacted the local churches and asked them which days they would like to do for the shelter.
    • Monday John Henry Newman Parish
    • Tuesday Crossgates Methodist
    • Wednesday Manston St James
    • Thursday St Mary's
    • Friday -
    • Saturday & Sunday John Henry Newman Parish

  • Christ Church in Halton aren't in a position to be allocated a day but they do have some volunteers who can help with other churches.
  • Christ Church behind the park in Manston, will confirm if they have any volunteers.
  • Responses are still pending from the Franciscan Sisters and Father G (on behalf of the Eritrean community).
  • Tony has requested the use of Christ Church's hall for a games evening again as it was well received last year, and is awaiting a response.

  • All the meetings for Action for Refugees are open meetings and invitations have been issued in the Churches Together communication and throughout the Parish. Both the minutes and the agenda for the meetings should be widely available.

  • ACTION: Nadin to contact Mary and see if these documents could be posted to the website
  • ACTION: Nadin to add Mary Gairn to the circulation list.
  • ACTION: James to write a small piece for the newsletter ‘Myth Busters'.


  • Dodgson's Funeral Directors have contacted the Parish offering to contribute towards a community project/initiative. After talks with Tony, Dodgson's will contribute some form of food for the shelter as well as 3 volunteers.

  • Date of next Meeting: Wednesday 26th September 2018 at 7pm in the
  • Closing prayer said by Jim Cohen

Published Wed 12th Sep 2018 08:00:32
Last Modified on Wed 12th Sep 2018 08:04:22

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