CLEVELAND’S Police and Crime Commissioner has praised the work of a group set up to support asylum seekers and refugees in Hartlepool.
Barry Coppinger spoke out after visiting the Asylum Seekers and Refugees Group which holds drop-in sessions every Monday from 11.30am-2pm in St Joseph’s Church Hall in Hutton Avenue.
Stressing the importance of supporting all sections of the community, he commented “Inevitably many refugees and asylum seekers have been through very difficult experiences and it’s important that they know that here they can enjoy the support and protection of the police and other agencies.
“I have made clear that one of my priorities is delivering a better deal for victims—and that must apply to refugees and asylum seekers just as much as every other section of our community. I was very impressed by the efforts of the group and look forward to working with them in the future.”
The group was set up about three years ago and currently supports around 38 families, mainly from Asian and African countries such as Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Malawi and Zimbabwe.
A range of agencies and organisations, including Hartlepool Borough Council, Victim Support, Cleveland Police, Hartlepool Voluntary Development Agency, the Legal Advice Service, the Refugee Council, Jomast and volunteers from the community, provide regular support by attending meetings.
Chairman Desmond Dongo who originally comes from Zimbabwe, said: “We were delighted to welcome Mr Coppinger to our group and we’d like to thank him for taking the time to come and visit us.
“We are delighted that he was able to see this at first hand the invaluable support that the group offers to a large number of asylum seeker and refugee families living in Hartlepool,
“We are only able to offer this service thanks to the continued backing of so many agencies and I would personally like to thank them all for their on-going support.
“Special thanks must also go to St Joseph’s Church for providing us with a place to meet. It really is appreciated.”
Posted on Thursday 14th February 2013