My Week: Lindsay Cross talks free pens and balloons

The project director at West End Refugee Service recounts her week

Lindsay Cross
Lindsay Cross

MONDAY - Downstairs the offices and clothing store are buzzing with asylum seekers and refugees coming for help, advice and clothing. I love the international feel of the place with lots of different languages being spoken, and it's hard to concentrate on my report writing. We have been busier since another refugee support agency in Newcastle closed its doors at the start of the year.

TUESDAY - We have a long trustee meeting. Everyone is pleased and relieved that my recent funding applications have been successful, particularly when our sector is taking such a battering. After a tough six months it will be good to be talking with clients and giving training sessions in the community rather than being cooped up in my office.

WEDNESDAY - I have a very good meeting this afternoon with a final-year photography student at Sunderland University who is planning to take portraits of some of our volunteer befrienders and the people they befriend as part of his final show. I am struck by his understanding of the loneliness and isolation affecting those who have been forced to flee their countries. Everyone who participates will receive a framed print of their photo as a thank-you. He is also going to produce a photo book that the volunteer coordinators can use to promote the befriending scheme.

THURSDAY - The 3,000 pens have arrived for Refugee Week. They've been printed with the Refugee Week web address and will be handed out in the third week of June. Every year, support agencies run a stall in the large indoor market in Newcastle city centre, giving out free pens, balloons and a myth-busting leaflet. I must remember to ensure we have enough volunteers to manage the stall.

FRIDAY - I have a day off and potter around town. It's good to spend time in the everyday world. Working with refugees can be distressing, inspiring and exhausting. Their problems put ours into perspective.

West End Refugee Service is a charity supporting asylum seekers and refugees in Newcastle upon Tyne.

Lindsay Cross is project director at West End Refugee Service

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