OPEN DOOR (OXFORD), EAST OXFORD COMMUNITY CENTRE, 44B PRINCES STREET, OXFORD OX4 1DD
Open Door Christmas Lunch
Open Door is a drop-in service for refugees and asylum seekers at the East Oxford Community Centre
Every Thursday, 11am - 3.30pm
Open Door provides a welcoming environment for people to meet friends, make connections, and to participate in the preparation of our free lunch. We are run by volunteers and we welcome help. If you would like to find out more you can send us an email, drop in on a Thursday or give us a call, contact us here.
Thank you to our two volunteers Shahina Chowdhury who cooked one of her national dishes from Bangladesh, Vegetable Bhaji and Habiba Nazari who cooked one of her national dishes from Afghanistan Kabuli Pulao.
This year’s pool competition was won by Botan. Congratulations!.
Reza plays pool at the pool competition.
Founded in 1999
Open Door is a drop-in service for refugees and asylum seekers at the East Oxford Community Centre. We are a small charity run by volunteers offering advice, information, support, recreational activities and a free lunch. We provide a welcoming environment for people to meet, make connections, chat to volunteers and friends, gain training and participate in the preparation of our hot lunch (with halal and vegetarian options). Tea, coffee, biscuits and fruit are also available.
Between 30 and 45 people use our service on Thursdays, from a range of countries including, Iran, Iraq (Kurdistan), Afghanistan, Algeria, Uganda, Syria, Eritrea, Sudan and Somalia. Some are young asylum seekers who are recent arrivals but the majority are older, more settled refugees. Other refugee groups using the centre also join us for lunch.
We provide on-going opportunities for refugees to do voluntary work and to learn new skills as we invite our users to participate in the planning and preparation of our lunch and to gain nationally-accredited Food Safety in Catering qualifications. We also provide recreational activities (pool, table tennis, and chess) which are very popular, culminating in an annual competition.
We display information and leaflets about other local services and as a hub we direct people to the relevant local resource that relates to their needs and interests. We make weekly referrals to local education and training providers and to other services for advice, support, counselling and/or mentoring.
We also provide a space for various partner organisations to access and support refugees and to provide satellite services in the community by giving health, housing and training support. Volunteers are on hand at Open Door to help people with applications, forms, letters, correspondence and phone calls.
We are extremely grateful to all who support our work with grants, donations and gifts in kind. We have received grants from Oxford County Council, Oxfordshire Community Foundation, the Allen Lane Foundation and St Michael’s and All Saints Charities. Gifts have come from many generous individuals and groups and they make a big difference to what we can do. The Oxford Food Bank continues to provide a delivery of fresh food each week.
A documentary about the difficulties that Asylum Seekers & Refugees experience in the UK, 2009.
Click on the image to see this video on Youtube (this will open in a new window).
An account of a sucessful outcome - Open Door's Head Chef Hassan
2013 and 2014 have been important years in the life of Open Door’s head chef, Hassan. Hassan first came to Open Door as an asylum seeking unaccompanied minor. Hassan is a Kurd, from Iraq. As with other Kurds living in his area, his childhood was difficult and he experienced violence and discrimination from the state. As a teenager, Hassan fled to the UK to seek protection.
Hassan began to come regularly to Open Door, in order to get a healthy hot meal and to relax in a welcoming and safe social space. Even after he was granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK, Hassan continued to come to Open Door. In addition to enjoying the company that Open Door provides, Hassan was able to benefit from additional services that we signposted him towards. For example, we were able to find Hassan an English for Speakers of Other Languages course with the County Council, to help Hassan improve his spoken and written English.
Over time Hassan became a volunteer at Open Door himself, initially helping our coordinator set up and clear away the tables and chairs, and eventually, around 2008, coming into the kitchen to help with food preparation and the washing up. Eventually, he started helping with the cooking and quickly became the lynchpin in the cooking team, producing increasingly varied and delicious meals for Open Door.
Open Door was able to organise and fund the opportunity for Hassan, and other users of our services, to study for a Level 2 Food Safety training course. Hassan passed the course and as a result now has a nationally accredited qualification. Hassan was invited to become a trustee of Open Door, a position he was pleased to accept, and also often cooks large meals for fundraisers and charitable causes. At the end of 2012, after four years of tireless voluntary work for Open Door, Hassan’s dedication and generosity was recognised when he was awarded a volunteer award by the OCVA at the Oxfordshire Charity and Volunteer Awards ceremony in the town hall.
In 2013, Hassan successfully beat many other bidders to win a City Council pitch in central Oxford and is now trading with his own food takeaway van. He employs a number of other refugees and to reflect the warm and continuing relationship that he has with our charity, Hassan has even decided to call his business ‘Open Door Kebabs’.
In January 2014, we were all delighted to congratulate Hassan on becoming a British citizen. He has already contributed a great deal to Oxford and the wider British society and we wish him all the very best in the future.
East Oxford Community Centre, 44B Princes Street, Oxford OX4 1DD - Tel: 01865 792168
(corner of Princes Street & Cowley Road)
Coordinator: Mark Greenaway
Treasurer: Jo Moffett-Levy
You can also drop in on a Thursday anytime between 11am - 3.30pm