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Thursday, August 27, 2015

London- Introduction to Kingston Somali Association and its services

Kingston Somali Community Association

(Medeshi)-  London 27 August 2015 , KSCA is a charity based in Kingston upon Thames , Greater London - England and was founded in Dec. 2006 by a group of scholars and refugees from Somalia and Somaliland  to support the minority ethnic communities (particularly the Somalis ) in the royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames .

The Objectives of the charity include:
“To promote general charitable purposes for the benefit of the communities of Kingston Upon Thames and the surrounding area, and to provide relief from financial hardship and social and/or economic disadvantage and to advance the education of its residents of all ages; and in particular to provide opportunities for the aforementioned residents to participate fully in the life of their community in ways which address and alleviate social and economic disadvantage”.

After-school classes at Piper Hall (Photo by Medeshi)
KSCA's primary aims are to provide:
 a) supplementary education classes in core subjects including extra classes in Maths, English and science as well as  IT skills for young people from refugee backgrounds, low income families and areas of deprivation to improve their education attainment, employment chances and to prevent educational, social and economic marginalisation; and to improve children and young people's attendance, educational attainment and self-esteem.
b) Drop-in centre for advice, information and guidance for service users to access mainstream services such as health, welfare benefits and housing.
c) Citizenship classes to promote the integration of the asylum seekers and migrants into mainstream society.
d) Training community members on healthy eating foods to reduce obesity among its members and prevent obesity related diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and other related heart complications.
The charity services are open to all people regardless of ethnic origins and the services are provided at accessible .

KSCA services help the Kingston Somali community not only to meet individual and family needs but also to be tackle social isolation by inculcating the British culture and way of life, helping them to acquire skills knowledge and skills and access mainstream services  and help them to integrate themselves into the local communities by forming positive social relations as well as to develop resilience so as not to fall prey to negative criminal influences and anti-social behaviours.

Volunteering Services

Many of those that access KSCA services are residents of refugee origins, people with physical disabilities and mental health problems and young people with particular unmet needs including those with skills development needs, disaffected young people failing or at risk of failing in mainstream educational system and requiring extra curriculum educational needs. Most KSCA’s volunteers have been with the agency since its inception and many come from the same racial, cultural and religious background as the service users and provide  racial, cultural and religious sensitive services including counselling, befriending, personal care and practical assistance for service users. KSCA’s volunteers act as key links and source of support for all those using our services and the support offered include KSCA’S direct support or help for KSCA’s service users to access mainstream services including health, educational, training and other services.

Community members at a well-being workshop at the council Hall ( Photo by Medeshi)

Interpretation Service

Language barriers, depression, social Isolation, mental and problems including post traumatic disorder and depression render many of our service user unable to access mainstream educational, social, health and employment services.  KSCA’s Interpreters provide interpretation and practical support services including accompanying service users to appointments to provide language interpretation and advocacy services on behalf of service users to access mainstream services.

Housing Support Services

Housing is often a key link in giving access to, and enabling refugees to take advantage of support services. Settled accommodation provides an address from which to apply for benefits, training or a job, and establishes entitlement to a school place. We therefore,  provide information, advice and advocacy support for service users at risk of homelessness to secure appropriate affordable accommodation. We also provide free telephone services to numbers such 0845, 0800 to the users for matters pertaining to housing benefits, utility bills and Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) offices.

Services for people with physical and mental health problems and disabilities.

We provide support to people who are suffering forms of disabilities including mental ill-health, learning or physical disabilities through volunteering outreach service for people in their own homes.

Accessibility and equal opportunity to services:

We use ICT and local publicity exercises to disseminate and inform the people of Kingston about KSCA services. KSCA’s website also provides information about the agency’s services. We also use posters, newsletters and community activities to disseminate project’s information and encourage service users and their families to inform people in their social network about the services we provide and how people can access our services. We have found the latter to be cost effective and useful especially as it proved successful in publicising the KSCA’s young people services by enabling the young people themselves to inform their peers at school and in the communities about their experiences about the benefits that they derived for accessing our services. We additionally use our networking activities to inform local agency and post KSCA service information in local partner and collaborative agencies notice boards, churches and mosques as well word of mouth  to reach local people.
Facilitating well-being workshop for the community members 

Expected Outcomes of IAG services:
By offering Information Advice and Guidance, we shall achieve the following outcomes:

•More people from the Somali community will be empowered to seek employment or employment training so they can get out of welfare dependency;
•More Somalis will access services such as education, training, health, housing and other essential services;
•More Somalis will play a more active role in the life of the community in Kingston;
•Kingston Somali Community association will increase its capacity to provide services to its client group.
Together we succeed, divided we fall.
See more photos here : Community well-being workshop

(By Medeshi)