Islington centre opens just in time to help to Syrian refugees

Andy Ruiz Palma

Andy Ruiz Palma - Credit: Archant

A refugee centre has been relaunched just in time to support people fleeing Syria after David Cameron announced that the UK will take 4,000 migrants a year until 2020.

The services of the Islington’s Centre for Migrants and Refugees centre are needed more than ever in the wake of the crisis but the task might be stretch for the centre, which was forced to temporarily close in December due to funding problems.

It followed the withdrawal of £200,000 a year funding from Waltham Forest Council, which was subject itself to a £1.15 million cut in central government funding.

But after a fundraising drive and some small donations from some individuals the facility in Cross Street is now set to reopen with limited hours on Tuesday next week.

Andy Ruiz Palma, chief executive of the charity, said: “The recent migrant crisis will have considerably large effect on what we do. We already have massive demand for our services.”

He says that the charity will do what it can despite “limping along” due to the drastic reduction in costs.

The centre has already taken a small number of Syrian refugees who fled during the early stages of the invasion of IS.

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The centre provides English classes, help with housing and counselling, hot meals, and clothes for refugees, asylum seekers and migrants.

Mr Palma said: “As far as I’m aware the money put aside for the Syrian refugees will go to local government for housing. That’s the first priority. The second is what on earth will people do when they get here? That’s where we step in. I doubt we will see any funding for that for a long time. 20,000 refugees will have an impact and certainly we will be able to help.”

Mr Palma stressed the importance of counselling services for refugees, who travel vast distances to escape war torn areas.

He said: “Post traumatic stress is something that most, if not all, migrants face.”