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A Magazine for Sheffield

New Beginnings Just one example of how a joined-up community response supports residents

New Beginnings supports asylum seekers and refugees to integrate into life in Sheffield.

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In Sheffield we are seeing the third sector rise to the significant challenge of meeting the needs of the city's most vulnerable residents. In particular, many voluntary and community sector (VCS) projects which don't directly deal with health and social care needs during normal operations are adjusting to a new landscape and working out what good they can do for their clients.

The New Beginnings Project at Voluntary Action Sheffield (VAS) is one such project. New Beginnings supports asylum seekers and refugees to integrate into life in Sheffield. Working with clients one-on-one, it provides advice and support, as well as routes to training, education, volunteering opportunities and employment. For many, this human connection is critical during a time of international lockdown.

Winnie Lutakome, Participation Co-ordinator at New Beginnings, tells of one such recent case of a client with several health and access needs who was unsupported and urgently needed help.

"She was very scared and upset. She is a wheelchair user with various health problems including heart disease. She was desperate for help, desperate for food and did not know where to turn."

Winnie says that despite managing to get to a nearby supermarket, the client was not able to find anything she could eat, due to her strict dietary requirements. Adding to what was already an incredibly difficult day, on her way home the client received verbal abuse from an individual on the street. By the time she got home she was too scared to leave the house.

Winnie contacted Age UK on the client's behalf. Despite having completed all its daily deliveries, the charity was able to get key items of food and toiletries out to her by 5.15pm on the same day.

"[She was] overwhelmed with excitement. She was very grateful that from making that one phone call she now had one less thing to worry about."

Thousands of these stories are playing out all over our city every week. Though the need is vast, VCS organisations, mutual aid groups and supportive neighbours are banding together to signpost towards vital services and support the most vulnerable people in our city.

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