What is DCC?
by Nic Burne
This is a question I have asked and been asked several times over the last few years for fundraising and recruitment. I certainly know what it is not. It is not the same as it was pre- Covid. One hundred to 150 visitors to the drop-in on Thursday afternoon, some for a social chat and some for help, some for cooked food and hot drinks, many just to be in a friendly, safe and welcoming environment.
We survived the Covid lockdowns remarkably well, mainly due to the commitment of volunteers taking our services out to the people seeking asylum isolating in their NASS accommodation and consulting with them in their gardens. Very cold in mid winter!
We have slowly returned to “Service as usual” – it is just that “usual” has changed.
In the pre-Covid “usual” all those seeking asylum were living within walking distance of Doncaster town centre and the Quaker Meeting House. Now most of them have been dispersed to outlying villages and a bus fare to town is the majority of a day’s allowance. These days there is a noticeable increase in isolation, loneliness, distress and mental health. It is difficult for people to link up with others from their homeland and gain mutual support from each other.
The second big change is that most interviews with solicitors, many court hearings and a majority of Home Office interviews are done, wholly or partly, by phone or video. This removes the interpersonal contact which can, in many ways, give a feeling of confidence that a person’s voice is being heard.
The third change is the increasing inability of the Home Office to run an asylum system that can cope with the demands put on it. Having your life put on hold for two or three years or more is enough to sap the optimism and confidence of even the most robust person.
So back to the original question. If I was to choose one word it would have to be “adaptable”. I believe we have done a remarkable job in managing these and other changes that have been thrust upon us. I believe we offer an all encompassing service within our limitations and, if there is a request for help that we have not encountered before, we are able to research and resolve the problem.
However, the DCC is much more than just a Thursday afternoon asylum support service. People with particular interests and skills organise their own activities to benefit the lives of asylum seeking people – English lessons, bikes, football sessions, access to health, outings, the DCC newsletter, even the occasional barn dance.
Hence for a final answer to the initial question, “What is the DCC?” I would have to write that the DCC is a loose affiliation of people seeking asylum and kind, caring and compassionate volunteers who are prepared to give their time, talents and effort to benefit those who have fled their homeland with hope in their hearts and nothing in their pockets.