Celebrating the year with you! Enjoy our Thank You film!

Celebrating the year with you! Enjoy our Thank You film!

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’. 

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 our CEO, Julian Prior, who had the difficult task of selecting the winner in our ‘Building Bridges’ challenge!

Our ‘Thank You’ film, made by Robin Fry with the support of Ash, was premiered at both venues with many of the stars of the screen present at the events! 

Here is our special Thank You to you all. 

Following his dreams…

Following his dreams…

I had the pleasure of interviewing Ash (a young man aged 22 from Iran), who came to Action Foundation to further improve his English language and to access our Action Letting in Sunderland. Little did he know then that doors were about to open for him, not only literally but also metaphorically… to a promising and exciting future ahead.  We started our conversation by looking to the future…Ash has been offered a place to study for a Masters’ in Film Directing at the very prestigious University of the Arts in London!

Since the age of 12 and whilst at school in Iran, Ash dreamt of a career in the film industry and has a great passion for the history of cinema and film noir. He has very supportive parents and early advice from both his mother and father have given him great strength and determination to follow his dream.
His mum, who studied Psychology and is very open minded, said “If you have a glass of water, don’t see the empty spaces, see the water inside”. His dad’s advice was: “You need to do what brings you joy and to follow your dreams so that when I am no longer here, you will continue to be happy.”

He didn’t expect to receive such a warm welcome when he arrived in the North East, but he found everyone very welcoming in Sunderland and particularly when he started volunteering at FODI (Friends of the Drop-in Sunderland).

Having a good understanding of the English language and volunteering opened many doors for Ash and has played a huge part in developing his many friendships. He met a radio producer and was introduced to Spark Radio, a full-time community radio station at Sunderland University run by volunteers and now regularly presents on their weekly live show which goes out on Tuesdays 11-12noon. To learn about broadcasting, he firstly ‘shadowed’ other presenters, produced a short clip and then went ‘live on air’!

He has formed long lasting friendships with volunteers and their families that he has met through FODI and later at Action Language and Action Letting where the owner of his accommodation has connected him with people in London and accommodation ready for the start of his Masters’.
In forming friendships, it is very important to respect the culture you are living in and to be able to say sorry if you think you may have offended someone, which can be hard to know if you don’t understand the different cultureexplained Ash.

Ash now has friends from many different countries and cultures, some of whom have now moved to different cities in the UK, but they will continue to keep in touch and meet up.

When Ash heard about Action Language he was keen to get involved in classes to further improve his already very good English.  He found everyone so friendly and welcoming and was also introduced to Action Housing. This enabled Ash to move into our supported housing with help from Jen, one of our support workers, and for the past six months he has been happily sharing a flat with 3 others (very tidy people) in Sunderland, overlooking the river.
He is very grateful for the support given through Action Housing which means not having to worry about practical things to do with the accommodation and he knows that he can always ask Jen for advice on things or where to go for any extra support.

At Action Language Sue helped me so much in practising for my IELTS exam and gave me preparation exercises. It was hard work, but I passed and achieved the points I needed for my university applicationssaid Ash.   He applied to 5 universities with 4 all happy to consider his past qualifications and background in production.  Entry to the University of the Arts in London is an arduous process with a 3-stage interview process.  In the final stage, Ash was asked to direct a script scene from the film ‘In Bruges’ directing two professional actors and in front of the course leaders!

Ash said:It was a golden time – I knew I needed to be the best version of myself”.  He was offered one of only 7 places! “I called my family by internet in the middle of the night to tell them the news! My mum was crying, and it was the happiest moment of my life so far in the UK. My family have sacrificed a lot for me to follow my dreams.

When Ash arrived in the UK it was not what he expected, but it has proved to be a very friendly and welcoming country and where he is very happy to be. On leaving Iran, it was the first time that he had lived alone, but his experiences have made him a stronger person.  He will miss the North East when he moves down to London, particularly all the kind people he has met, but also the local accents, the history of the area, the football banter and Sunderland. We will miss Ash too and we wish him all the best as he follows his dreams and we look forward to hearing more about his exciting future ahead.

Overcoming cultural and practical barriers

Overcoming cultural and practical barriers

On Wednesday 7 November we launched our Resident Support Programme. The project is designed to help residents of our supported accommodation overcome cultural and practical barriers which stand in the way of them creating independent lives in the UK. The first module of the workshop explores some of the challenges residents might face and the ways Action Foundation can support them on their journey to independence.

We also encouraged participants to help shape the programme by canvassing their opinions on the types of information, advice and opportunities relevant to them such as social activities in their area or work placement opportunities.

The workshop was a great success with all participants agreeing it was useful and improved their understanding of the ways Action Foundation can support them. The event was made possible by the efforts and commitment of 3 volunteers; one of whom facilitated the workshop by interpreting between the trainer and participants ensuring that all those present could not only understand but fully engage in group discussions.

What an Impact!

What an Impact!

Over the past year we have helped more people across a wider geographic area with the support of more volunteers than ever before!

We have been able to support 1413 refugees, asylum seekers and other migrants through our housing and language projects – an increase of 27% on the previous year.

Read more about the impact Action Foundation has made, in our 2018 report. Below you will find our report in two formats, a page turning format and a pdf:

Page Turning Format: http://bit.ly/AFImpactReport2018 

PDF Format: ActionFoundation-Report_2018

Volunteering Opportunities: Resident Support Programme

Volunteering Opportunities: Resident Support Programme


Resident Support Programme: Next month Action Foundation is launching the Resident Support Program. This will consist of a package of workshops and training session which will expand the support and advice already provided by our dedicated team of Support Workers to the vulnerable asylum seekers and refugees we house. We are developing the programme in consultation with residents in order to ensure that it is tailored to meet individual circumstances, experiences and interests as well as addressing recurring challenges people face on the journey from destitution towards creating independent and fulfilling lives here in the North East of England. The Resident Support Programme will provide information, advice and opportunities in the following 3 broad areas:

  • Life in the UK: Developing life skills, promoting independent living and providing opportunities to connect with the community
  • Employment: Becoming more employable through developing skills and accessing education, training and work experience opportunities
  • Housing: Helping residents to prepare for the realities of sustaining independent tenancies after moving-on from supported accommodation.
Volunteer Opportunities: Recruiting enthusiastic, committed volunteers will be essential to making the Resident Support Programme a success, and we are eager to hear from anyone who wants to get involved in the project.
Find out more about our volunteer positions on our website…
We are also recruiting the following volunteer positions:
  • Working with people where English is not their first language
  • Work with people who are experiencing social exclusion
  • Teaching, training or mentoring
  • Independent Living/Life Skills
  • Speakers of Arabic, Amharic, Farsi, Tigrinya, Kurdish or French

We are planning to develop a rolling program of workshops and sessions and would like to enlist the support of volunteers who are able to make an advanced commitment to delivering sessions on a regular basis.

Volunteer Program Support: To provide project and administrative support to the Resident Support Program. The role will be based at the Action Foundation Office in Newcastle and will suit someone who is comfortable using Microsoft Word and Excel and is able make a regular weekly commitment.
Volunteer Buddies: To accompany and support residents to take part in volunteer opportunities or social activities until they are confident enough to do so on their own. The role will require some travel across Tyne & Wear and Teesside and would suit a person who can be available for a few hours per week at different times.

All volunteers will be provided with a full project induction, specific training related to their volunteer role and on-going support. Getting in touch. If you would like to discuss any aspect of the project in more detail please contact: Jes Balmer, Resident Support Trainer, Action Foundation & Open Door North East
0191 231 3113 Jesbalmer@actionfoundation.org.uk

Lord Mayor of Newcastle visits Action Foundation

Lord Mayor of Newcastle visits Action Foundation

In celebration of Refugee Week, we welcomed the Lord Mayor of Newcastle, Councillor David Down and The Lady Mayoress to Action Foundation.

As one of the Mayor’s two chosen charities for the year the timing couldn’t have been better. They joined an Action Language class and helped with a geography quiz on capital cities around the world before joining our Housing team to find out about our Hosting and Letting projects. We look forward very much to working together with The Lord Mayor over his coming year in office for the benefit of Asylum Seekers and Refugees in our community.