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Room to Heal Spring Newsletter

Newsletter 31 May 2019

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Welcome to our Spring Newsletter

“At the heart of our community is our therapeutic work. Theresa Ryan-Enright, one of our four therapists, has recently written a blog where she reflects on the “incredible achievement of each person in the community for having the courage and dedication to open up and grow personally and as a whole in the community.” Click to read the whole blog.

Over the last few months we’ve been busy campaigning for improved rights for our members, working with larger partner organisations to amplify our voices.

Sadly, two refugee support centres near us have closed recently due to lack of funding. During these uncertain economic and political times, your support for our members matters more than ever: thank you for all you do.

Read on to find out more about what we have been up to!”

Elli Free, Director

Taking on the hostile environment

Every day our members face a hostile environment: for them, accessing suitable housing, welfare, legal support and education is an ongoing struggle. We’re working with other organisations to challenge this:

UK torture review

We recently contributed to a civil society report on how the UK is applying the Convention against Torture. The report, which was coordinated by Redress, has been submitted to the UN Committee Against Torture. It was launched at the House of Lords on 2 May.

Care Don’t Share

One of our members inputted into Liberty’s recent report on the hostile environment and data-sharing between essential public services. We’ve signed the Care Don’t Share pledge.

Lift the Ban

We’re part of an awarding-winning campaign on giving asylum-seekers the right to work. Our members shared their views on social media about why they want to see the ban lifted. One member said:

“So I can help myself and help the community. Also I can buy something to eat – healthy food instead of eating from the bin all these years I have been here with no support.”

Working Together

In February we hosted a meeting for caseworkers working in therapeutic organisations for refugees. These meetings are an opportunity for caseworkers to co-ordinate work and share best practice. We’re delighted to be hosting the Destitution Forum in a couple of weeks too.

Community News

At a packed Community Forum in March, members, volunteers and staff came together to discuss our work. Three months after our founder director, Mark Fish, stepped into a new international role at Room to Heal, we took the opportunity to review what our community is and what our responsibilities are. We talked about how everyone in our community – members, volunteers and staff – can take on part of the leadership role and together develop our flourishing community. We discussed how we can best welcome new members, and continue to challenge prejudice. Members also confirmed what they value in our community:

“equality of all members”
“always there to return to”
“accepting me without judgement”
“free of stress”

Our weekly community gatherings at Culpeper Community Garden have been full of life amid the blossom of spring. Members have cooked delicious and healthy Sri Lankan, Iranian, Algerian, Italian and Congolese food. Thank you to our members who cook for up to 30 people each week. It’s a big challenge. And thank you to our Friday volunteers – Mariko, Kate, Mary – who work really hard to make this happen.

Cat, our garden volunteer at Culpeper, is getting us out in the fresh air and our plot is looking great – the lettuces are in and there are many other seedlings getting ready in the greenhouse. We’ve also been harvesting the last of our crops from our old planters at Mildmay Community Centre garden in preparation for developing our new garden in the basement.

Trip to Kew

A group of members sought inspiration at Kew Gardens in April. They explored the beautiful glass houses and the Reflections on Nature exhibition of glass sculptures by Chihuly. A peaceful and relaxing day out for all.

Theatre workshops

Theatre director Sophie Besse, from PSYCHE_Delight, has recently started running a series of theatre workshops, with the help of Tamara (musician and actress). So far they have involved dance and music, including live accordion – and lots of laughter. Members are free to drop in whenever they like and the workshops normally take place in the garden. Thank you to Sophie and Tamara, and to the National Lottery Community Fund for supporting this uplifting work.

Our amazing runners

Energetic staff, volunteers and friends raised a fantastic £2,500 for Room to Heal this spring. Theresa, one of our therapists, organised a group of friends to join her on the 10k run in Victoria Park. Lewis, one of our extraordinarily talented volunteers, ran a half marathon on the same day. And Suzie, one of our wonderful caseworkers, just ran the Hackney Half Marathon – and there’s still time to donate to Suzie’s page.

Thanks to everyone who participated in and donated to these runs: your support is amazing!

Late Summer Party

Save the date – our end of summer party is on Friday, 6th September 2019 at Culpeper Community Garden. We would love to see you there – more info on this to come nearer the time.

Join us!

Do get in touch with us at or 0207 923 2007 if you’re interested in volunteering opportunities, pro bono work or would like to fundraise for us. There’s always so much to do – we’d love to hear from you!

Thank you

Once again, a huge thank you to all our friends, supporters, volunteers and members: our work is only possible because of you!

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