Action Language
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History and Background

Julian Prior

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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History and Background

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 the City, prayer 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 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. They kindly agreed for us to become a Tyneside branch of their charity which we did until 2009 when we became our own charity called Action Foundation. 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 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 anyone that could not access mainstream ESOL classes. Following its success we started to teach English two days a week in April 2008 and gathered a large number of volunteers to support many of our students in their learning. This project is now called Action Language and has classes every day of the week.

More recently we have started a couple of social enterprises to generate 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 one method of support, whilst they were seeking asylum, to the mainstream systems. Action Language also teaches English to individuals or organisations that can afford more intensive courses leading to professional exams.

When I first started working with asylum seekers and refugees in 2005 I had this phrase running through my head... ‘find the keys to what people need’

I didn’t really know what it meant at the time but the more we have developed as an organisation, the more I realise this is exactly what we are about; enabling people to unlock a better future by providing something they need to get there. We focus on plugging a gap in service provision and work in partnership with other agencies across Tyneside that offer complementary support to meet the needs of our beneficiaries.

It has been an incredible privilege to meet so many amazing people in the course of our work. It is also wonderful to see the difference our support is able to make to their lives, restoring their dignity and releasing their potential.


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