The history of Action Foundation
Action Foundation started in 2006 with 6 beneficiaries and as many volunteers! Last year we supported over 1,000 refugees, asylum seekers and other migrants with the support of over 130 volunteers. You can read about our history and development below!
Action Foundation started as a response to the needs of the local community by City Church in Newcastle in 2006 by our CEO Julian Prior. Following research into the greatest needs in Newcastle and an assessment of how the church might be able to help meet these needs, we felt that we should start with the issue of Asylum.
Following further research (supported by Your Homes Newcastle) it became clear that there was no agency in Tyneside set up to provide accommodation for asylum seekers that had been refused the right to remain in the UK yet had not returned home. It was estimated that there were over 300 people in Tyne and Wear that were destitute, that had no recourse to public funds and were entirely dependent on charitable organisations or friends for their most basic survival. As part of this research we got to know Open Door (North East) based in Middlesbrough who were housing destitute asylum seekers and they kindly agreed for us to become a Tyneside branch of their charity. This enabled us to raise funds and start housing asylum seekers, working in close partnership with West End Refugee Service and East Area Asylum Seeker Support Group (Common Ground) as well as many other individuals and organisations. This project is now called Action Housing.
We started initially through securing a property from a philanthropic landlord to provide supported accommodation to 4 destitute asylum seekers.
We quickly realised that the key to many of our residents becoming more integrated and being able to access other services they needed was to be able to communicate in English more effectively. Therefore in 2007 we ran a pilot English Summer School for asylum seekers, refugees and other migrants. This proved to be a great success and sparked the idea for permanent and more regular ESOL service.
Following the success of the ESOL Summer School we started to teach English two days a week in April 2008.On the first day we have 4 students and 5 volunteers but by the end of the first term this had increased to 46 students attending 3 different classes. This project is now called Action Language and has free classes every day of the week during term time.
To financially support the delivery of these projects in 2012 we launched Action Letting, our first social enterprise to generate surplus income for our charitable work and meet related social needs. Action Letting provides accommodation and support to new refugees and helps prevent homelessness as they transition from the support of the asylum process to living independently. To date we have supported 147 beneficiaries through this project.
In 2014 we were one of 6 charities to win a national Centre for Social Justice Award recognising our work addressing poverty and disadvantage. This was the first time our work had been recognised so publically and was a great achievement for the whole team!
In 2015/2016 we expanded our Action Letting, Housing and Action Language projects into Sunderland where there is a recognised need and demand for these services. We also launched our second social enterprise, Action Language PRO, which provides fee-paying professional English courses and contributes financially towards the delivery of our free classes.
In December 2015 we were one of 5 charities to be awarded a national Guardian Charity Award out of over 1,200 entries. You can view our winners film here!
Our most recent project, Action Hosting, launched in May 2016. This project matches volunteer hosts offering a spare room in their home, with destitute asylum seekers for an agreed period of time. Through living with a host family this vulnerable group is provided with safe and secure accommodation, the opportunity to increase their stability and be supported by our Action Housing Support Workers to explore their future housing options.
Watch this space…!