Overwhelming support for our work during Covid-19

We have previously posted about the difficulties faced by refugees and asylum seekers through the Covid-19 pandemic. Since then there have been great efforts by Circles to assist the refugee community. A new Circle was set up which distributed food on a weekly basis for up to 60 family units. Another new Circle was established to seek employment for refugees who had lost their jobs due to the pandemic. COFA was faced with many requests for assistance to pay the rent for refugee families who had lost their income and so another Circle grew to pay rent. Other Circles kept on with their contact, supporting the refugees they knew.

It has all meant a huge demand on the resources of the Circles. As COFA has found in the past, when we are faced with a crisis, our donors and supporters have stepped up and provided us with all the resources we have needed. It is a remarkable situation for COFA to be in, to realise once again that we are blessed with very many generous people who want to support us in this critical work. Most touching for the Treasurer was to see the number of $750 donations which came into our bank account when those sums were given by the Federal Government to Pensioners and Social Security beneficiaries. These people on low incomes themselves indicated that they believed that refugees needed the government support more than they did.

We had very many churches who made large donations to COFA including one which has donated almost $20,000, another nearly $13,000. We have had five Trusts who have made grants of $32,000 between them and a Pharmacy donated $10,000. There have been so many donations from individuals of $1,000 and more, not to mention the hosts of donors who contribute regularly on say a weekly basis. It is quite overwhelming to be conscious of such generosity. COFA also received a grant of $10,000 from the State Government and more than $53,000 from the Federal Government through the auspices of the Australian Red Cross for food.

What it has also shown to us is that our model of being a community based organisation run entirely by volunteers with minimal administrative costs is attractive to individual donors, philanthropic organisations and even government agencies. In the eight years since COFA was formed, we have grown from a $30,000 per year small charity to a half million dollar mid-sized Australian charity.

There as many people in our Circles who have done so much to assist refugees and asylum seekers, giving of their time and energy so selflessly and we are so grateful to them. But they could only do this essential work with the encouragement and financial resources from all our donors and supporters. For all that effort and generosity, we are truly most humble and thankful to you all. You are amazing people, showing such concern for these people who have suffered so much in their past and presently experiencing such need. We thank you on their behalf and deep from our own hearts.

Keep families together: Get Up Petition

Circle of Friends Australia has been supporting Mehreen since she was moved to Adelaide from Nauru to give birth to her daughter. The same daughter recently turned 3 years old and has still never met her father outside of the Kilburn detention facility where he is being held.  A recent report from the Human Rights Law Centre titledTogether in Safety reveals that hundreds of women like Mehreen have been kept separated from their families while paperwork for release of people from detention centres were ignored for two years by previous Minister for Home Affairs. Get Up has put together a petition to new Minister of  Home Affairs Karen Andrews to request families be reunited now. You can read more about this and sign petition here.

Rapid Response for Refugees Circle May Appeal

Since January, 30 new referrals for assistance have come to the Rapid Response for Refugees Circle (Circle 110) from AMES Australia, Red Cross, STTARS (Survivors of Torture & Trauma Assistance and Rehabilitation Service), ARA (the Australian Refugee Association), Royal Adelaide Hospital Mental Health Unit, Hutt Street Centre and other Crisis Services supporting refugees and asylum-seekers experiencing homelessness or domestic violence. In addition, four families need significant ongoing support, another has been re-referred and two single men have been referred for further help. Given that the Rapid Response for Refugees Circle is run by just two volunteers this is a busy workload and it has placed a strain on our funds.

We each spend at least two hours a day dealing with emails, phone calls and so on to consider requests, check, set up and organise approval of any payments. Each referral is carefully screened to ensure that there is no other option, such as any of the Government funded agencies, for assistance before committing Circles of Friends funds. As a volunteer run and largely donor funded organisation we are aware that our funds are limited and need to be spent judiciously.

On top of this sourcing and collecting or shopping for items needed can take half a day. Bedding is all new or good quality and freshly clean when delivered. Similarly for clothing. Delivery is usually a 60-90minute journey one way. Bills and major shopping excepted, costs of undertaking this work are part of our gift. This way we can ensure that 99% of all donations goes directly to refugees and asylum seekers with remaining 1% going to cover unavoidable Bank and Give Now fees and Insurance payment.

Unfortunately, the money Rapid Response for Refugees Circle (Circle 110) currently has in credit will not last the month. With winter approaching there are already many calls for warm bedding and clothes from people who arrived in Adelaide at the end of 2020. This week alone this Circle spent $328.50 on warm quilts, bargain covers and blankets for 3 adults and 3 children.

This amounts to this Circle requiring funds of a minimum of $1,780 for the month of May. You can help by making a tax-deductible donation now.

Your donation will help in funding bedding to keep people warm this winter and to keep the people in housing, food and necessary medicines. If you can support one of our families or individuals in need please contact us via our downloadable donation form.

Our ongoing commitments include:

  • $50 per week to help support a woman with 3 children, known to Circles for several years, with school lunches and petrol. Multi-agency support is needed including coverage of rent and Utilities by St Vincent de Paul, food and other help from Red Cross. They have no Visa.
  • $170 per week to help with food and housing for a Sri Lankan man who has no Visa
  • In conjunction with Blackwood/Hills, $275 a fortnight to assist a couple with a baby where the husband’s health means he is currently unable to work
  • Pharmacy costs of between $100 – $200 per month for a lovely family from Syria, hampered by physical disabilities but still doing their best to earn
  • In addition to a current Red Cross payment of $100, a further $100 per week for accommodation and food for a young Iraqi man without a Visa, also known to Circles for several years.
  • Other costs include one off provision of winter bedding.

A minimum total of $1,780 for the month of May (most of which is ongoing costs).

You can help by making a donation to:

  • Cover the cost of bedding:
    • $99 each for two warm washable quilts (for double beds)
    • $24.99 each for two quilt covers
    • $20 each for three single quilts
    • $8.50 each for three single quilt covers
    • $7 each for three throws (small blankets)
  • Accommodation and Food: Band together to cover one of the individuals and families above for their monthly costs or make any one off donation to help keep families in their homes with adequate food.
  • Pharmacy: Band together to cover /contribute to Pharmacy costs for the Syrian family.

If you can help in any way, small or large, please donate now via our secure online GiveNow page or download and fill out our Donation Form and return by email or post.

Do you work with refugees, asylum seekers and other vulnerable migrants who have minimal support options available to them? Baptist Care SA can help. They provide FREE emergency relief assistance to vulnerable South Australians and help meet their most urgent needs through:

  • Food hampers
  • Community Food Hub vouchers
  • PBS prescriptions
  • Bus tickets.

Concession card holders including Students, Seniors, new Australians (ImmiCard) and Centrelink clients are all welcome.

Please call or visit the WestCare Centre to make an appointment.
Contact: T 08 8118 5200
Location: 11-19 Millers Court, Adelaide
Opening Hours: Monday to Thursday, 9 am to 12 pm