A Hackney social centre for refugees and asylum seekers is appealing for donations to help secure its future after revealing it only has enough money to last the next six months.
Akwaaba, which is staffed entirely by volunteers, supports 100 vulnerable migrants from nearly 50 different countries.
It provides members with free meals, English lessons and legal advice, among other things.
The centre in Stoke Newington is now asking for donations to support its travel fund, which allows at least 40 Akwaaba regulars living in financial hardship to attend its sessions.
The charity’s coordinator Eve Dickson said: “The hostile environment towards refugees and migrants in the UK has made it increasingly hard for organisations like ours to get financial support.
“A funding application we made last year was unsuccessful and that has put us in a slightly difficult position financially as we rely solely on donations and grants- that’s why we’re asking for support.
“Our biggest expenses are the rent we pay for our premises and our travel fund.
“For many of our members, the price of a one day bus pass is a significant expense, and one they are not able to afford on a weekly basis.”
Members who receive support from the travel fund include refused asylum-seekers who do not have the right to work and are not entitled to any governmental support, destitute families who are unable to claim welfare benefits and young homeless refugees.
The fund also assists volunteers from refugee and migrant backgrounds to get to Akwaaba.
The centre particularly encourages people from these backgrounds to volunteer to give them the opportunity to take up positions of leadership and strengthen their sense of self-worth.
Speaking about range of support services Akwaaba provides, Eve said: “Akwaaba has become a vital hub for refugee and migrant communities in Hackney and it’s the only centre of its kind in North London.
“Every Sunday, volunteers and visitors come together to prepare a hot meal, share experiences, take part in activities, and learn new skills.
“A carefully planned programme of children’s activities offers fun and educational opportunities for younger visitors, ensuring that parents can participate fully in workshops and classes—including ESOL, bike repair, a women’s group, yoga classes, computer classes, and storytelling—or just enjoy a few hours’ peace.”
The centre was launched in 2014 after a group of Hackney residents, led by members of Green Lanes Methodist Church, decided to create a social space for refugees, asylum seekers and other migrants.
The name “Akwaaba” translates as “welcome” in the Tiwi language of Ghana. Akwaaba won the Adiaha Antigua Award in 2016 for its work with refugees and asylum seekers.
To find out more about Akwaaba, or to donate, visit the centre’s donation page here