It’s now over eight weeks since lockdown began and we launched our Covid-19 Crisis Support Appeal. We’ve raised over £12,000 and the team have been working incredibly hard to provide crucial help to vulnerable asylum seekers, refugees and other migrants across Newcastle, Gateshead, North Tyneside and Sunderland.

To start off with we were in contact with our regular clients, but increasingly we’ve had referrals coming in from other organisations, as well as people contacting us directly for help.

We thought you’d like to know a bit more about the work we’ve been doing…

So far we’ve made welfare calls to 221 people – we’d still like to reach out to at least 900 more going forward!
Action Foundation’s Jes Balmer, who is co-ordinating the welfare calls said: “People tell us that they are so grateful to be contacted, and very glad to get support. Often we end up taking action after these calls to help with things like food, phone credit and casework.”

“We’re being helped by 18 volunteer interpreters who speak 15 different languages to make some of these calls in the client’s own language – so vital information can be accurately shared.”

What else?

InterAction Manager Kate Townsend told us:

    • 95 households have received deliveries of essentials food, toiletries, cleaning products, baby items etc) have been made since the beginning of lockdown, and we are now regularly supporting 38 of these households
    • 32 individuals have received phone credit top-ups
    • 33 individuals supported with their casework (10 ongoing, 23 complete)
    • 106 households have been supported in total

“Behind every one of the 106 households, the team is working tirelessly together to support in any way that they can. Each team member is allocated to a specific role which requires a lot of team work and communication.”

Kate’s incredibly proud of how her team are handling the crisis, and gave us an example of what happens when a call for help comes in.


A couple from El Salvador were dispersed to North Shields just last month and got in touch over the weekend for urgent help.

  • Maria got in touch and used her Spanish language skills to find out more information – they had no form of income as they had not yet received their ASPEN cards so desperately needed food, clothes for the cold British weather, phone credit, toiletries and even a pair of glasses.
  • Joel contacted a partner organisation to provide localised support
  • Ruth contacted our Action Foundation Volunteers so food and clothes could be quickly delivered
  • Maria issued them with phone credit so they could make phone calls and access the internet
  • Lizzie looked for a local opticians and made them an appointment
  • Nicola got in touch with two other relevant local support organisations to cater for their specific needs
  • Maria spoke to Recyke Y’Bike to provide them with some means of transport

Tech update

We also asked for your second-hand tech donations and we received…

11 laptops, 2 phones, 2 tablets, 6 DVD players and literally hundreds of DVDs!

These are currently being tested and prepared for use, but we’ve managed to supply a repurposed laptop to one of the asylum seekers we support, who also volunteers for us.

Bringing out the best in people

We’d been worried about how down he was, but one of our team members spoke to him and said: “He seems SO MUCH BETTER. He was saying a very big thank you for it. He said he has been doing some English on it and watching a lot of films. He also is going on lots of cycles and said he is finding it easier to cope now.”

Action Foundation’s CEO Julian Prior reflected on the impact of the lockdown so far:

“The last two months have been incredibly demanding for our clients, volunteers and staff alike. However, it has also brought out the best in people as there has been such great teamwork and care in supporting so many individuals and families. I want to thank everyone who has contributed to supporting this great effort which is truly inspiring”.

Covid-19 Crisis Support Appeal