Boaz news – new hosts, new houses, new night shelters!

Welcome to our latest news update!

Autumn has definitely arrived here in Hulme. Our office is very close to several university halls of residence, and we are just round the corner from a large sixth form college, so we can really tell that the new term is well underway!

At Boaz it feels like we are constantly in a season of change, but this Autumn really feels like a fresh start. Read on for news of new staff members and preparations for the launch of our winter night shelters, as well as opportunities for you to help us accommodate even more people this year as we put a call out for new hosts and launch our online appeal to furnish our two newest houses!

At Boaz, we know that we need to do more than just provide a temporary fix to the problems and injustices within our asylum system, and that’s why we are passing on some information about some worrying new changes to our health care system.

Thank you as always for your support, and please do keep in touch via social media or by emailing engage@boaztrust.org.uk if you have any questions or would like to know more about our work.

It’s Night Shelter season!

After all the planning and preparation, it’s now time for our winter night shelters to open their doors. Over the last few months, we’ve seen our waiting lists for asylum seekers and refugees grow and grow and the night shelters give us another opportunity to offer somewhere safe, warm and dry to people who may have nowhere else to turn.

We’re launching our first ever night shelter for women this year, and we’re so grateful for our 7 new overnight church venues and evening reception venue- and all the new volunteers who have signed up to help!

The pictures above were taken at our first night shelter volunteer training day this season. In the first picture you can see some of our newest team members on the registration desk. From left to right we have Debs (women’s night shelter coordinator), Hassan (client support worker) and Vron (men’s night shelter coordinator)- all ready and waiting to welcome our volunteers. And in the second picture you can see some of the 70+ volunteers who attended our first training day. It was a fantastic event and we received some really positive feedback from participants. Our second training day was another success as we had over 125 volunteers join us to get prepared for the coming season. We’re really thankful to Ivy Church in Didsbury for hosting both of these training days. Look out for further updates from our night shelter team in the months ahead!

Our concerns over changes to healthcare charges

In England, asylum seekers and refugees are currently entitled to free healthcare. Once someone’s asylum claim has been refused though, they are usually only entitled to free primary care (for example GP and A& E services). Secondary care (for example non-urgent hospital treatment) is chargeable for people who have had their claims refused (and some other groups) and has been for some time.

In July, the Government proposed to make two significant changes to a set of rules, known as the NHS Charging Regulations, which govern how people access healthcare and when they have to pay for it. Firstly, from August 2017, healthcare charges will be introduced for many community based services including community midwifery, health visiting, community mental health services and more. Secondly, from October 2017, there will be a legal requirement for all community health services and hospital departments to check ALL patients’ paperwork (including residency or immigration status) before providing any treatment. And under the regulations, if an individual cannot prove their entitlement to free health care, they must be charged for- and then pay for- the treatment up front.

Here at Boaz, we have seen the incredible difference that our NHS has made to some of our most vulnerable and poorly clients. Access to appropriate care can not only restore physical health but also mental health. It can provide dignity, confidence and in many cases can be life transforming. We recognise that the NHS is under huge pressure, but at the same time, there is evidence that when it comes to this particular client group, the savings to the NHS of implementing these charges is likely to be tiny- and in fact there may even be a higher cost (for more on this see the briefings mentioned below).

Many individuals and organisations are concerned about the impact this is going to have on people across our society, but especially amongst asylum seekers and refugees who may struggle to prove their eligibility, or who may be afraid of attending medical appointments if they have to prove their identity or fear their personal information being shared more widely. Our friends at Asylum Matters have produced an essential briefing on this topic, which sets out the key issues and concerns brilliantly and City of Sanctuary is a great place to go for ideas and resources to help us all speak out and challenge these charges.

For more updates, follow the hashtag #patientsnotpassports on social media.

Do you have a spare room?
Could you consider becoming a Boaz host?

Back in 2004 when Boaz began, it was all thanks to someone being kind enough to offer a bed to an asylum seeker who was homeless. Since then dozens of Boaz hosts have generously offered their spare rooms to provide temporary accommodation to hundreds of refused asylum seekers. Over the last year, we have not really had the capacity to take on new hosts, but with new staff members on board and a growing waiting list, we are now looking to recruit a small number of new hosts, specifically to host men at this time.

If you live within the M60 ring road, would be willing to host a male guest for a month or more (with a one week trial period) and ideally do not have a dog (many of our clients are afraid of dogs) we would love to hear from you.

If you would like to explore hosting with Boaz please either check out our newly updated hosting page on our website, or contact our hosting facilitator, Cat, on hosting@boaztrust.org.uk and she will be able to send you more information about how our hosting scheme works.

Unlocking the doors to our two new houses…

As our waiting list continues to grow, one of our main goals this year is to increase the number of destitute people we are able to accommodate and support. As well as expanding our hosting and night shelter projects, we want to increase the number of shared houses we manage. This summer, we’ve been working really hard behind the scenes to take on two new houses here in Manchester. As I write this, Mark, our housing manager, is sorting out arrangements for picking up the keys to our newest house, and he has already booked the carpet fitters!

This is where we need your help. We need to furnish both houses and get them ready for our newest clients who are waiting to move in. It is important to us that our houses are safe, warm and welcoming, and so we need to buy furniture, white goods and new beds, mattresses, storage and curtains. We’ll also be buying a few other bits and pieces like pots and pans for the kitchens.

If you would like to help us to get our newest houses ready, we have set up a dedicated giving page here with all the information you need. We would love it if we can get clients moved in as soon as possible and every penny really will help us to do that. Thank you so much.

Save the date…

Unfortunately we don’t quite have a date to save yet(!) but please do look out for news about our next Family Night in the weeks ahead. We love these evenings when we get to share our work (and food!) with the wider Boaz community. We are just trying to confirm a venue and date and we will be in touch as soon as we can to let you know when and where it will be.

Thank you for reading this far and for being part of our community of friends and supporters.

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our latest news update, and that you’ve been encouraged by news of our new houses and soon-to-open night shelters. If you’ve decided to find out more about hosting, or to give a gift to our new houses fund, then THANK YOU! We really appreciate it.

If you have any questions about giving to Boaz or would like to chat to us about how you can support us in different ways please drop Tim a line on 0161 202 1056, or email him on funding@boaztrust.org.uk

There’s more information about our fundraising commitment to our supporters on our website along with some supporter FAQs

Thank you so much for standing with us as we work together to end destitution amongst people seeking sanctuary in the UK. We couldn’t do this without you.