CRIES IN THE DARK - UNITED SIKHS RESPONDS
"Since the UNITED SIKHS Help Desk opened in Southall in 2010, we have helped hundreds of immigrants who had nowhere to turn to because of their immigration status and some who had ended up sleeping 'rough' as Southall's Asian homeless," said Harbans Kaur, UNITED SIKHS Community Service Director.
"The Help Desk is not just for immigrants. We often find people walk in for help about their health, housing and employment issues. Every Gurdwara in the country should have a Help Desk and UNITED SIKHS is looking for volunteers to run these Help Desks throughout the country," said Narpinder Kaur, UNITED SIKHS Help Desk Programme Officer.
You may watch a trailer about our work at the Help Desk at UNITEDSIKHS TV.
Southall, London, UK - Krishna Rani (not her real name), a destitute immigrant, flew out to Amritsar last October after the UNTED SIKHS Help Desk arranged for her free air ticket through the UK Border Agency (UKBA). She has a son and husband back home. She came to the UK on a visitor's visa and ended up overstaying so she could earn some money for her family. She became ill so could not work. Her sister made her sleep by the toilets in her house as that was the only place available because there were 15 men sharing the house. She got beaten by her sister a couple of times too. She could have ended up on the streets if her friend had not told her about the UNITED SIKHS Help Desk in Southall.
A crowd waiting to register for the Legacy Scheme at the UNITED SIKHS Help Desk
Very soon, S Singh, who has previously been homeless on the streets of Southall and would have ended up taking shelter under the 'bridge' with other homeless immigrants, will leave for Delhi on a ticket arranged by our Help Desk at the Singh Sabha Gurdwara in Southall.
Last year, Tuesday mornings saw a queue of hundreds of people who travelled to our Help Desk from as far as Newcastle to register with the government's Legacy Scheme, under which failed asylum applicants could have their case re-considered. Presently we have over 70 asylum seekers waiting for the outcome of their registration under the Legacy Scheme.
“Sri Guru Singh Sabha Southall appreciates the efforts of UNITED SIKHS at their Help Desk at our Park Avenue Gurdwara Sahib. They have helped hundreds of immigrants through their valuable advice, help in filling forms and other related services. We feel proud and admire their efforts and look forward to their continuing sewa," said Himmat Singh, President of Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara, Southall.
“Over the last 18 months since UNITED SIKHS launched its weekly Help Desk at the Singh Sabha Gurdwara in Southall, we have arranged air tickets through UKBA for about 50 immigrants voluntarily returning to India, who had been struggling to survive in the UK. We have obtained air tickets for about another 40 waiting for their travel documents to return,” said Harbans Kaur, UNITED SIKHS Community Service Director.
“The homeless Asians of Southall made the headlines recently, however, the problem will not go away because of their immigration status. But we must help them on humanitarian grounds,” she added. To watch a talk show on the Sikh Channel in which UNITED SIKHS presented the issues faced by homeless immigrants, click here.
The UNITED SIKHS Help Desk team with a client
The UNITED SIKHS Help Desk, which provides assistance every Tuesday from 10am to 1pm at the Singh Sabha Gurdwara at Park Avenue, Southall, was set up in response to an acute problem two years ago when an influx of young students from Panjab found themselves destitute because they were unable to find jobs to support themselves. You may watch a UNITED SIKHS film, on the students' plight, titled ‘Udaari', at UNITEDSIKHS TV.
Make a donation to support our work and make a difference in your local community:
- Via paypal at www.unitedsikhs.org/donate or
- Or by bank remittance, direct debit or cheques by contacting a UNITED SIKHS office nearest to you. See www.unitedsikhs.org/contact.php for details.
Himmat Singh, Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara president, handing to a Help Desk client an air ticket provided by UKBA
You may read a previous press release on our community service projects by clicking here.
Director, UNITED SIKHS
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