Project information

Our problem-solving clinic for refugees

Every week, our volunteers welcome refugees and asylum seekers who need support to overcome problems in housing, legal status or debt, and barriers to education, empowerment or employment. With your support we can ensure that the newest members of our community live in dignity in the UK.

January 2018 - December 2018

Charity information: CARAS (Community Action For Refugees And Asylum Seekers)

CARAS (Community Action For Refugees And Asylum Seekers) logo
  • Need


    Moving to a new community, there are a million questions you would want to ask your neighbours. Refugees and asylum seekers in the UK are no different, but they often have so many extra things to worry about - having to navigate and sometimes fight complex bureaucracy for their right to legal representation, to be adequately housed, to access education. Meanwhile they face huge obstacles to becoming independent, often including a language barrier, trauma, poverty, and stigma.


    CARAS runs a weekly ‘Problem? No problem!’ clinic, working with asylum seekers and refugees to understand their rights and options when it comes to bills, debt, housing, welfare, employment. Volunteers deliver one-to-one sessions lasting up to a full hour, enough time to unpick complex situations and find solutions, with unlimited follow-up sessions - including accompanying people to appointments when necessary. However, the project is entirely funded by public contributions.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Support refugees and asylum seekers to overcome obstacles and crises


    » Volunteers deliver 30 hours of individual contact time per week at the drop-in clinic
    » CARAS provides referrals on to specialist services

    What success will look like

    80 refugees and asylum seekers in south London will report a problem solved or goal acheived.

    Aim 2

    Ensure refugees and asylum seekers feel able to communicate their needs


    » On request, accompany individuals to challenging or intimidating appointments

    What success will look like

    Volunteers or staff will accompany vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers to 25 official appointments

    Aim 3

    Inform refugees of their rights and support them to self-advocate


    » Provide regular workshops on human rights, UK immigration, housing and employment law

    What success will look like

    150 individuals will attend workshops delivered by experts, and 80% will, by the end of the year, report a significantly increased understanding of their rights.

  • Impact


    “I didn’t know what rights I have in this country as a woman. Now I know.” Maryam, user of our advocacy service

    Last year we gave more than 500 hours support to refugees and asylum seekers in need and the results are immediately available. A few key outcomes of last year's clinic: 15 families under threat of homelessness are safely housed; 5 women are safe from domestic violence; 43 young people were supported to an education place.


    After 6 years experience of delivering individual casework support, we are experienced at managing the risks: to ensure the service is well known, we have continual outreach through our other projects and through community networks; in case some volunteers become unavailable, we have a large database of active volunteers; when specialist support is required, we refer on to services in London with whom we have close contact.


    Donors will receive a quarterly update. You are also invited to visit CARAS during one of our Family Activity Days: regular events during the school holidays in which the community comes together.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £21,750

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £3,100 Project costs Holding a weekly drop in clinic
      £908 Volunteer costs Training, DBS checks and travel expenses
      £13,106 Salary costs 2 days per week staff time to manage the vounteeers, outreach and workshops
      £1,308 Core costs Contribution to the costs of running CARAS
      £250 Monitoring and Evaluation Preparing a report on stats and beneficiry consultations
      £1,478 Room rental The cost we pay to rent activity space
      £1,600 Workshops Fee for experts to run workshops
  • Background


    CARAS is in south-west London, often the first port of call for new arrivals. We are based in Tooting with the majority of people using our services living in the boroughs of Wandsworth, Lambeth, Merton and Croydon, the asylum processing hub, creating a high demand for specialist services like ours.


    CARAS projects are designed for refugees and asylum seekers who are newly arrived in the UK, or whose asylum status is in question, or are isolated and struggling to adapt to life in the UK. Last year we helped over 300 of the newest members of our community, many of whom started with no education place, little to no English, a limited support network, and anxiety about their new area and culture.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    CARAS has been supporting refugees and asylum seekers since 2002. Our services continually adapt to best meet the needs of the women and young people we help, and the recent founding of the Youth Council has taken beneficiary self-advocacy to the next level. Last year our small staff team managed 100 volunteers across 9 projects to the benefit of more than 400 people, and in the coming year we hope to support even more to make a positive transition into their new community.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Molly Abraham

    Molly is a qualified social worker who has worked on problem-solving support at CARAS for more than five years.

    Eleanor Brown

    Elly is Managing Director of CARAS, supervising the delivery of our projects, and is responsible for ensuring the safety of our service users.

Watch a clinic in progress and hear from Saeeda and programme leader Molly