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RSD ACHIEVES OISC LEVEL 1 ACCREDITATION – July 6th 2018

3161BB10-A90C-4BB1-B099-6AAB0E73597BIn June 2018 RSD’s Casework Coordinator, Neli Montes De Oca, and three drop-in volunteers – Alex Goodman, Suzy Aburagheb and Tony Griffin – passed the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC) examination, with the result that RSD has been awarded Level One accreditation. The 3.5 hour exam – which was taken in London – was in two parts, a multiple-choice section and an exercise in which a letter had to be drafted, outlining the possible routes a client might access to remain in the UK. Both sections needed to be completed successfully and the pass-mark was 65%.

OISC is an executive non-departmental public body sponsored by the Home Office which regulates immigration advisers, ensuring they are fit and competent and act in the best interest of their clients. Level One OISC accreditation allows Neli and her colleagues to provide basic advice, including giving help with completing certificates for travel to clients granted humanitarian protection or discretionary leave; making applications to vary conditions for people without recourse to public funds; assisting with applications for leave to remain and with the ten-year route for indefinite leave to remain; and registration of a child as a British Citizen.

As a result of this accreditation Neli and her colleagues will be offering advice clinics every Thursday between 12:30 and 14:30 in the Exeter Community Centre, probably in a new office as the usual drop-in service between 14:00 and 16:00 will continue to run. Depending on demand and the availability of funds these hours may be extended. In the meantime, Neli will be in contact with other organisations which provide immigration advice to discuss how RSD might work with them.

Neli would like to acknowledge the assistance given by Refugee Action, who provided five full days of webinar-based training, answered questions, checked writing exercises and gave information about the OISC registration process. Without their support, Neli says, she and her colleagues would probably not have completed the process successfully.

Our warmest congratulations to Neli, Suzy, Alex, and Tony on this wonderful achievement!

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WORLD CAFE IN TOTNES FOR REFUGEE AWARENESS WEEK – June 23rd 2018

On Saturday 23rd June a World Cafe was organised in Totnes to celebrate diversity in our community. This came about because for the past 18 months our Syrian families have been volunteering regularly with Food in Community – a social enterprise that collects surplus organic vegetables from Riverford Farm and other food that is at risk of being wasted from other shops and suppliers in our area and redistributes it as veg boxes. These are delivered to people who need a bit of extra help. This has been a very successful partnership as our families have become firm friends with Food in Community and stalwart volunteers enabling them to both benefit and to help others.

Our Syrian community regularly cook and invite their European friends to eat with them – the food is so delicious that Food in Community decided there needed to be an event that could show off their lovely food and celebrate their contribution to our community. Food in Community teamed up with Integr8, a local charity working with Refugees and Asylum Seekers in our area, and together, over many months the World Cafe idea began to take shape. On the day, teams of local people of different nationalities prepared samples of their country’s food and local musicians were invited to perform a selection of World Music for our PAY AS YOU FEEL Cafe at the Methodist Church. The venue was filled with colourful flags and wall hangings made by our local secondary school and the day was a huge success with delicious food, music and dance being enjoyed by everyone. The event was well supported, costs were covered and most of all our rich and diverse community was well and truly celebrated in great style. Thanks to everyone who took part!

Here are a few lines written about the event by Iman, Khalil, Amin and Shukriya Alksour:

Last Saturday we had a World Cafe. We cooked a lot of Syrian food, we heard a lot of World Music and we danced with everybody. We were happy. We like living in Totnes and Dartington because it is very safe and we like the people here. We were pleased to help our friends who have helped us and our family. Thank you to all Totnes and Dartington people – we love you!

Susie Nicholls, RSD volunteer.

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