A CHURCH refugee charity that serves hundreds of adult and child refugees with food, and offers English classes, is facing closure because of funding cuts.
The charity, Meeting Point, set up in 2003 by churchgoers in Armley, Leeds, has money to keep its doors open for only another six months.
Government funding cuts mean that more charities have to bid against each other for smaller amounts of cash, the Vicar of Christ Church, the Revd Arani Sen, said.
”Because of government-funding cuts, more and money people are applying for less and less money, and bigger organisations to get more of it. There is limited provision around here for refugee support.” Some projects had closed already, he said.
The project began with the congregation’s vision to reach out to refugees arriving in the area, often with no support systems in place, leaving many of them isolated.
”It was a Christian vision that began it, and many people have experienced the Christian love in action and now want to come to our church. We have baptised many refugees as a result,” Mr Sen said.
Last year, 224 adults and 66 children made 3000 visits to the charity’s drop-in, and were served nearly 3000 hot meals. About 2000 food parcels were handed out, and 115 people attended English classes offered by church volunteers. Dozens of women have joined a women’s group at the church.
Mr Sen said that refugees were arriving in greater numbers now from Syria, and also coming from Iran, Iraq, Eritrea, Pakistan, and Sudan. More people have arrived with mental-health needs, owing to the trauma they have suffered.
The charity needs about £46,000 a year to remain open, to cover running costs and the salaries of three part-time staff, but its bid for grants for the next year has so far not been successful. Previous supporters include the Church Urban Fund, and trusts such as Joseph Rank, and the Leeds charity Wades, as well as individual churchgoers and others.
To support Meeting Point, email Mr Sen at email@example.com.