Piotr Kuhiwczak is Project Worker with the British Red Cross' Refugee Services in Leicester.
In an interview with CivicLeicester, Kuhiwczak talked about how the Red Cross Refugee Service operates in Leicester. The interview took place on
16 December 2011, at an event organised by the Zimbabwe Association and the Zimbabwe Action in Solidarity (ZAS) Leicester Drop-in:
Piotr Kuhiwczak: My name is Piotr Kuhiwczak. I work for the Refugee Services of the Red Cross in Leicester, which is quite a big service compared to other services of a similar kind in the UK. And the reason for that is that Leicester is a dispersal city: that is, the Home Office sends asylum seekers to Leicester, puts them in accommodation, and they [asylum seekers] come up with all kinds of needs, which we help them to find answers to. So, the range of work we do is very wide - from helping people to get legal support, solicitors; helping with appeals when asylum seekers lose support, NASS support; to medical help; schools... it's the whole range of needs which everybody has got and all these problems, especially for people who come from overseas and they don't know how to operate within the system.
We also have got a large programme to alleviate destitution because a lot of asylum seekers, in between appeals, they end up either homeless or destitute. They have no food. So we have got a large programme of food distribution that is helping, supporting basic needs.
The service has been going for, I think the 10th year now and we don't see the needs decreasing. I would say the needs are increasing.
So, that's what we do.
Civic Leicester Community Network: And where in Leicester are you based?
PK: We are in Oadby, which is on the southern end of Leicester, down A6, London Road. Bus 31A can take anybody just nearly to our doorstep.
And we moved there because we had very small premises in the city centre. Now the building is large. We have got a large food store and we can do more things than we used to do.
CLCN: And if I want to find out more about the work you are doing, how do I go about it? How do I get in touch with you?
PK: You can come to us. You can call us on 2710359. Make an appointment. Come and we shall explain to you in detail what we do. We shall give you examples of our work; show you our premises; introduce you to our volunteers, so you will be able to see the whole range of work we do.
CLCN: Thank you very much, Piotr.
PK: OK. Thank you.