Refugee community organisations (RCOs) are among 23 charities facing eviction from a centre in London which they have used to provide essential services to vulnerable people in the community for over 25 years. The Iranian Association, the Afghan Council, and the Iraqi Association are just some of the RCOs being forced out of Palingswick House by Hammersmith and Fulham Council, which has announced proposals to replace them with one of the government’s flagship ‘free schools’ from August this year, as reported in the Guardian newspaper.
The RCOs have long used the building to provide essential services including employment training, supplementary school classes, language courses, and advice sessions to thousands of refugees and asylum seekers within the area, as well as refugee communities across London.
In a letter published in the Guardian, Donna Covey, Chief Executive of the Refugee Council said: “Proposals to eject organisations supporting some of the most vulnerable people in our society from Palingswick House in Hammersmith so that they can be replaced by one of the government's flagship free schools are deplorable.
"The Refugee Council has long supported the organisations there, which have provided vital services for more than 25 years. Not only will these proposals seriously affect refugees that rely on these voluntary-led organisations for language courses and employment training, but they also will be detrimental to the local area, by adding pressure on other local services to fill this gap, and hindering the integration of refugees and asylum seekers into the community.
"It is ironic that the Conservative-led local authority would decimate such a fine example of the government's "big society" – a place that brings communities together under one roof in order to promote community cohesion.”