Time is running out to apply for Norwich Sport Relief grant money

English classes at New Routes Integration group who received money from Sport Relief.PHOTO BY SIMON

English classes at New Routes Integration group who received money from Sport Relief.PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY - Credit: SIMON FINLAY

There are just two weeks left for Evening News readers to apply for a Sport Relief Community Cash grant.

English classes at New Routes Integration group who received money from Sport Relief.PHOTO BY SIMON

English classes at New Routes Integration group who received money from Sport Relief.PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY - Credit: SIMON FINLAY

Once again, Sport Relief is distributing £37,500 to small organisations across Norwich that are doing great work to help local people living tough lives.

New Routes Integration is one of the community groups that benefited from grant money last year, and project co-ordinator Dee Robinson has told of the good that it did.

The group, which meets at Norwich Social Centre in Catherine Wheel Opening, works with people from around the world to promote social inclusion.

Activities include language classes, homework support, craft workshops and friendship clubs.

People that use the service come from Sudan, Iraq, Syria, Brazil, China, Iran and Albania, among other countries.

New Routes secured a £1,000 Community Cash grant last year, which helped to allow asylum seekers to access programmes at the centre.

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'Asylum seekers only receive £36 a week, and with that they would not be able to pay for the bus fare to reach us and use our services,' said Ms Robinson.

'We give asylum seekers that come here day bus tickets, so everyone can get home safely.' The group spends £1,500 per month on bus fares, which is its greatest expense.

'We apply for all of the grants we can but it is never enough,' said Ms Robinson.

'As fast as we get the money there are more people needing help.'

The group offers English lessons, dance classes, and some women only sessions, where members can talk about issues that they would struggle to in a mixed groups, such as domestic violence and FGM (female genital mutilation).

'One of the biggest problems for asylum seekers is isolation and our funding makes sure we can get people here and run our sessions,' Ms Robinson added.

'We only use qualified teachers and our volunteers are trained in cultural awareness as we have people from 37 different countries.'

The group is urgently seeking larger premises to meet growing demand, with around 250 people visiting the centre every week.

New Routes employs one full-time and three part-time members of staff, and 130 volunteers – many of whom are UEA students.

Ms Robinson stressed the importance of the service offered.

'Asylum seekers cannot work until they are give status here, so they only get £36 a week,' she said. 'It can take weeks, months or even years for them to be processed.

'The longest I have known it to take someone is 13 years.

'Then they only have 28 days until they have to find their own housing, a national security number, sign up for job seekers – they think once they get status here their problems are over but it is a whole new crop of problems.

'People here have survived torture and I always think that now they have to survive the asylum process.'

New Routes is one of several community groups in the Norwich area to have benefited from Community Cash, and fresh applications are invited in the run-up to this year's Sainsbury's Sport Relief Games.

Norfolk Community Foundation works with Comic Relief and Sport Relief in alternate years to get the cash to the groups that need it most.

For more about New Routes, see newroutes.org.uk/ or call 01603 662648.

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