Drop-in Centre

Homeplus has a Drop-in Centre based in Belfast for refugees, asylum seekers and destitute migrants. The Centre operates from Monday to Friday from 10am – 5pm and has a wide range of services including:

 

Food: 

Hot meals are served Monday to Friday in the Centre at 1.30 along with tea, coffee, bread and donuts, which are available all day. Every Friday there is a special halal meal cooked. The food is cooked by volunteers who are also service users from different parts of the world. Bringing a wide range of cooking skills, styles and flavours they are best placed to know what the other service users like to eat and it gives them a sense of ownership and belonging. Food is served in the Centre each night during Ramadan for breaking of the fast. We also provide food bank vouchers and food parcels of fresh fruit and vegetables and chicken on a daily basis.

 

Clothes:

We collect donations of clothes and sort out those that are still of good quality for our clothes store for services users to take as and when they are needed. We also make referrals to organisations who provide clothes and in cases apply on behalf of service users to others organisations for money for clothes.

 

Advice / support service:

There is an advice and support service that operates throughout the week providing support in a variety of ways including completing forms, employment support, securing grants, housing and benefit issues for refugees, support with housing issues for asylum seekers, integration and accessing public services. It also facilitates access to education and training. The service includes a family support service aiding families to have increased equality of service provision and aid integration. This entails help with registering with doctors, getting children into schools, referrals to and linking in with local support agencies and community groups. 

 

Women’s group:

Over the last year we have been running a women’s group in North Belfast for females and single mothers who come from asylum seeking/ refugee back grounds. We chose to hold the group in North Belfast due to a recent policy that has seen all initial accommodation for asylum seekers moving to North Belfast and there are a lack of services available in the area. We found that many women could not afford regular travel into city centre or south Belfast, especially those with young children – they were finding it hard to attend anything from English classes to social activities.
The project started with a brainstorm with the group to find out what people would be interested in doing and then we went to organise activities. All activities are child friendly. We also have tried to find ways for the women to participate in policy and procedures around asylum seeking issues most recently through organising the women as a focus group for the education authority who are in the process of re-writing the new comer strategy for schools.
Over the last year we have been discussing as a group what the main issues are for women in their situation and they seem to be lack of childcare and lack of meaningful opportunities to develop skills and combat boredom and loneliness. For more information about our women’s group click HERE. 

 

Art Projects:

Homeplus have a range of art projects running throughout the year as we strongly believe in the positive impact that art can have on a persons life as being a good way to spend time and it being quite therapeutic as well as a great way to learn new skills and meet new friends. For more information on our upcoming, current and past art projects click HERE.

 

English classes:

Being able to speak English is so important for anyone coming to Northern Ireland as it helps them integrate, socialise, build relationships and ultimately gain employment. This is why we provide three levels of English class each week taught by our qualified volunteers. We have Elementary, Beginner and Intermediate classes available and the Elementary class is for women only.

 

Volunteer opportunities:

At Homeplus we believe in empowering our service users, wherever possible to help themselves and we have found that a great way to do that is through volunteering, so we have a wide range of volunteering opportunities available from cooking food, cleaning, teaching, sorting out the clothes store and donations, translating, helping on the allotment, helping with art projects among others. In fact most of the services we have have been service user led. This helps our service users feel ownership the service we provide and a belonging to Homeplus and our Centre as well as improving our ability to meet the needs of our service users.

 

Emergency financial support and accommodation:

Through the help of a number of other support organisations we provide access to emergency financial support and temporary accommodation for destitute asylum seekers.

 

Internet and computer room: 

In the Centre we have a computer room with 8 computers for service users for things such as contacting people via Skype, applying for jobs, building a C.V. or just using the internet.

 

Community allotment plot:

We have a community allotment plot that we attend regularly with service users. The service users themselves decide what they want to plant and when it is harvested they can take some of it for themselves and we use the rest of it for cooking in the Centre.

 

Family support service: 

We provide a support service aiding families to have increased quality of service provision and aid integration. This entails help in registering with doctors, getting children into schools, helping with applications for school uniforms and meals, referrals to and linking with local support agencies and community groups.

 

Access to household items such as T.V’s furniture and fridges etc:

Through the links we have with other organisations and our supporters we occasionally provide things such as sofa’s, T.V’s fridges and other household items that our service users. Thanks to McKeown PAT testing we are able to get all electrical items PAT tested to ensure they are safe to use before we give them out to any service users.

 

Health clinics:

We offer diabetes risk assessments, advice and referrals. With the support of Chest Heart and Stroke we also provide health check ups with follow ups, healthy eating lunches with talk on diet and nutrition. Through their help we also have de-stressing sessions involving massages, complimentary therapies and manicures.