Christmas Hamper Love!

Christmas Hamper Love!

We are extremely grateful to City Church for their kind donations of Christmas hampers for all of our residents in Newcastle, Gateshead and Sunderland. City Church have donated Christmas bags packed with goodies and treats and all including a pair of warm gloves. The team at Action Foundation delivered the hamper bags to our housing, letting and hosting guests during the week before Christmas.  The hampers contain goodies including tea, coffee, biscuits, sweets, chocolates, tortilla chips, juice and much more!



Thank you to all our learners, residents, volunteers, funders and supporters!!!  What an amazing year it has been and what a great way to end our year with two celebration parties in both Newcastle and Sunderland.

We welcomed over 200 guests to our celebrations in Newcastle, which included a ‘Building Bridges’ challenge (making a bridge from recycled materials in 15 minutes!) to the live sounds of the Cramlington Caribbean Crew! We would like to thank the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress for kindly joining us for our celebration in Newcastle, held in the Turbine Hall at the Castlegate on Tuesday 11 December and to the Samosa Sisters for the delicious hot food.  The Samosa Sisters are a non-profit refugee led community organisation that supports and empowers vulnerable women living in NE England raising funds for the relief of poverty (destitution fund) to help vulnerable women with ‘No recourse to public funds’. We would also like to thank City Church for helping us with the arrangements and for the technical support in showing our special Thank You film made by Robin Fry with the support of Ash.

In Sunderland, our party got into full swing on Wednesday 12 December when we were delighted to be joined by over 50 guests along with Janine Hartley, NEMP Partnership Manager and our CEO, Julian Prior, who together had the difficult task of selecting the winner in our ‘Building Bridges’ challenge! 

Our ‘Thank You’ film was premiered at both venues with many of the stars of the screen present at the events! 



Hosting at Christmas is a new experience for me by Ann

I have family coming to stay for a few days and also have a guest (that I have only recently met) staying for 4 weeks. My guest and I are getting to know each other by careful listening and with a bit of help from google translate.  We are both mothers and have similar religious traditions but are from totally different cultures. Already we have cooked and enjoyed eating meals together. I have been introduced to foreign language chat shows courtesy of youtube, interesting how similar some aspects of our cultures actually are!  It will be difficult for my guest as my family arrive reminding her of her own family far away and it will be a reminder to my family to be very grateful for the time we do have together.  My guest and I are already benefiting greatly from each other during this Christmas period and whilst we do not know what the New Year will bring for either of us, we shall have the gift of friendship and new insight into our respective cultures. My New Years resolution ‘Must do this again’.

Hopefully my two guests will be company for each other (as well as for me!) by Peter

I am hosting a regular guest for 4 weeks in December and January, including over Christmas. I have also agreed to host a second guest, who stayed briefly once before, for the holiday week. Both are from non-Christian African backgrounds, and speak Arabic. Both have (I think) been in the UK for Christmas before but I don’t believe they have met. My normal routine of joining my brother and his family on Christmas day will still happen. Other than that I hope to include them both in any gatherings at my home if they wish. And hopefully they will be company for each other (as well as for me!). This is the first Christmas I have hosted for Action Foundation so it will be interesting to see how the two of them feel over the holiday. It is quite likely they will spend time with friends they have around the area who share their cultural background. But no doubt they will be thinking of distant family and friends.

This Christmas I am looking forward to receiving more than I will ever give! by Margaret 

Arriving home after working in rural West Africa for several months it was wonderful to have my guest move in 3 hours later.  She is from Africa and that first evening we all enjoyed an African meal (cooked by African friends) and all tried on my new guest’s wig!! Happily she is staying over Christmas – a truly international one with guests from Zimbabwe, China, Indonesia, and Nigeria, although I will be cooking a traditional Christmas meal with all the trimmings!  Some are strangers and hopefully will become ‘part of the family’. Apparently in many languages ‘guest’ and ‘host’ are the same or interchangeable and it is wonderful to see our ‘guests’ become ‘hosts’.   Offering refuge to people means that my home becomes theirs and by offering hospitality one is the ‘receiver’ as well as the ‘giver’, as the ‘host’ becomes the ‘guest’ and ‘receiver’ on so many occasions. So that first Christmas –no guest room available  – unthinkable to turn anyone away – so Joseph and Mary were offered accommodation in the section of the house where the animals lived. But that home received the most wonderful guest of all who brought the gift of eternal life, Jesus Christ.

To find out more about becoming a Host please contact Lesley Dunn at or call 0191 231 3113.  



It is hard to comprehend having to wait over 2 years to be reunited with your wife and two young children who are on the other side of the world, but happily Tolosa and his family will at last be together this Christmas!  Having arrived as an asylum seeker in the UK in August 2016, Tolosa wasted no time in immersing himself in the community in Sunderland where he was initially dispersed to by the Home Office.  Through the Friends of the Drop In (FODI) and Action Language Sunderland, he signed up to be a volunteer with both organisations. As an Amharic and Oromo speaker, as well as having an excellent command of the English language, he was soon providing both interpreting assistance as well as becoming a Teaching Assistant in the classroom – it didn’t take Tolosa long to settle into the FODI/Action Foundation community. In Ethiopia Tolosa was a university teacher, holding a degree in political sciences and with two Masters’ qualifications in water management and peace and security.

But his journey through the asylum process was not a smooth one and was emotionally very painful.  It involved waiting one year away from his family for a decision on his asylum claim only to be rejected. He made an immediate appeal and the decision was eventually overturned due to Tolosa’s diligence in contacting his local MP and securing the support to be moved onto the priority list. Once overturned, he still had to wait a further 5 months to have this decision confirmed in writing and he was officially granted refugee status on 4 July 2018 with leave to remain until 2023.

He moved from Home Office accommodation into an Action Foundation house in Newcastle.  Tolosa explained, “When you are an asylum seeker the Home Office will provide you with accommodation until a decision has been made on your claim. In this case if you are granted refugee status you will be given 28 days to look for another accommodation by yourself. So the Home Office has no obligation to provide accommodation if the asylum seekers are either refused or granted a refugee status. In this case, it is the responsibility of the refugee to find a place which is often very difficult . So I was lucky to find a place in Acton Foundation housing within 28 days after being granted refugee status”.

He recounted a dark time when he was instructed to report to the Immigration Office in Middlesbrough every 2 weeks for 2-3 months, on each occasion he feared that he would be detained and prepared to say goodbye to his friends. Keeping busy through volunteering and being surrounded by people who care was key to Tolosa’s mental well-being. “Having someone to listen to me and to be interested in helping me meant a lot to me” said Tolosa.

He didn’t waste any time in applying for a family reunion, which he completed himself. His Action Housing support worker, Jen, helped to provide advice on finding a home ready for him and his family to start their new life together. His family, who had never travelled outside of Ethiopia before, flew over to the UK and arrived at Newcastle Airport on the 25th of October 2018.

“I was so happy. It was a very emotional moment at the airport as I had never met my young son before, as my wife was pregnant when I left Ethiopia. I didn’t know who to kiss first!! “ he said. “My daughter has now started nursery and is learning some English. My wife, who has a degree in sociology, is also continuing her English language studies and attends a weekly community class. For me, I have been offered a volunteering role at the British Red Cross and am keen to secure a good paid job” explained Tolosa.

This Christmas will be a very special time for Tolosa and his family and we wish them great peace, happiness and success for the future.