AFRIL works to alleviate poverty and improve the well-being of asylum seekers, refugees and vulnerable migrants living in Lewisham and the surrounding area.
It runs a drop-in centre for advice, support services and access to emergency supplies, and also runs English (ESOL) classes and a supplementary school for children aged 4-11. Much of the work is run by volunteers and Afril also offers volunteering opportunities for refugees to help them gain confidence and work experience.
Many refugees arrive in the community with very little, and there are often gaps in the provision given by statutory agencies which AFRIL works to fill. They have built a network of local community groups, churches and mosques that they can call on to try and meet basic needs such as food and clothing. Their aim is to alleviate the immediate needs but ultimately to enable refugees and asylum seekers to integrate into the wider community,and to be able to contribute to it in whatever ways they can.
AFRIL was started in order to meet some basic needs within the community and has grown to become an essential part of the support network for refugees in the area. At its heart is a sense of empathy for those who have been uprooted from their former lives and who face a real struggle to rebuild them. We were struck by the passion with which AFRIL works to restore dignity for its clients and to help them build connections and find a place of belonging within the local community.