AFRIL was established in 2006 to support vulnerable migrant, asylum seeking, and refugee families to overcome their complex problems and meaningfully integrate into the local community. AFRIL supports around 120 families each year, through the Helping Hands Foodbank, Rainbow Club Supplementary School, and the Advice and Advocacy service, as well as wellbeing and community gardening projects. Recently, AFRIL secured funding for an immigration advice service in partnership with Southwark Law Centre.
As with most organisations, Covid-19 has had a profound effect on AFRIL, both in terms of the support they provide as well as the demand for it. Currently they are supporting 109 asylum seeking, refugee, and vulnerable migrant families – a total of 208 adults and children. Some of these families are newly arrived asylum seekers housed in local contingency accommodation, where they have extremely limited access to food, clothing, and other necessities. At the height of lockdown, foodbank use soared to 66 families with 107 dependents and access was provided in partnership with Lewisham Local and Feed the Hill to meet demand; AFRIL now supports 44 families with 80 dependents through weekly deliveries of food parcels together with household goods and baby things. Most services are being provided remotely, including advice, wellbeing activities and supplementary school activities to over 85 children from early years to 11 years old.
A significant number of the Rainbow Club students are recently resettled Syrian refugees, brought to Lewisham via the Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme.
AFRIL have worked hard to continue running the school programme remotely as many of their clients did not have access to much needed digital technologies. AFRIL managed to secure 60 electronic devices and 25 data plans to ensure that their clients can continue to receive this much needed support.
Partnering with Fairbeats!, another South London charity, who aim to bring people together through music-making, Rainbow Club also allows vulnerable children the chance to express themselves creatively. Rainbow Club runs physical education and art lessons alongside the Fairbeats! music lessons and, before Covid-19, took students on trips and museum visits.
How can you help?
Programmes such as AFRIL’s Rainbow Club provide the most vulnerable and marginalised children with the chance to grow and flourish in a new and difficult environment. Not only by improving their chances to succeed in mainstream schooling but also by giving them the opportunity to express themselves and grow their creativity in a safe environment.
If you want to help you can donate to AFRIL here. Just £80 can provide 4 hours of English, Maths, Art and Music lessons for a migrant or refugee child.