'I didn't trust anybody. I had lost all confidence and thought I would never trust anyone again. With my counsellor...I have changed. I have begun to trust people again.'
Refugees and asylum seekers come to Oxford from countries with poor human rights records. Since 1999, we have worked with refugees and asylum seekers who are referred to us shattered and demoralised by experiences of persecution, torture, rape, bereavement and displacement.
In addition to the suffering in their countries of origin and in getting to the UK, problems are often compounded by pressing practical issues. Asylum claims can take several years to be resolved, sometimes well over a decade, during which time many asylum seekers have no right to work or claim benefits, which means ongoing acute poverty, uncertainty and insecurity. This pushes many over into complete hopelessness.
Although they may come to our service incoherent or even occasionally mute with horror and suffering, we are able to help them to find a voice and express themselves in a safe and confidential setting. The chances of success in counselling are good.
Those who have managed to get to the UK have survived where many others have not. Many are professional people who have courageously stood up to unjust regimes. The majority have a background of stable family life, which means that once recovery is begun, it usually proceeds rapidly.
The fact that in counselling their humanity and survival is witnessed and valued by another person is often the first thing they need to help them feel worthwhile again, and start them on the road to recovery.
This service is now under threat due to funding cuts. Therefore we appeal to you to help us raise our target of £98,000 to run the counselling service for one year. Any donation that we receive will help to cover counselling costs. Please help us to keep our counselling service open, and enable refugees and asylum seekers to rebuild their self confidence and start to make new lives in the UK.
Please donate by visiting Refugee Services or alternatively please send a cheque (payable to Refugee Resource) to The Old Music Hall, 106-108 Cowley Road, Oxford, OX4 1JE.
With your help we can continue to offer a safe place for our clients to try to express and make sense of their losses and traumatic experiences.