Case Study: British Red Cross Refugee Services – London

British Red Cross Refugee Services - London

The Hackney Destitution Resource Centre (HDRC) is a British Red Cross Service, based in East London. It helps destitute refugees and asylum seekers access essential services and adapt to life in a new country.

Before asylum is granted, most asylum seekers are not legally allowed to work. As a result, those who have already experienced the trauma of escaping an unsafe environment, are often living in such extreme poverty they cannot afford to buy the basic necessities such as food and hygiene products.

The British Red Cross Service aims to support these vulnerable individuals through a broad range of services, including providing food parcels and hygiene packs. It also runs a range of recreational activities, such as football, yoga, massage, photography, arts and crafts and cooking. The centre provides a drop-in service and supports around 1,000 beneficiaries each year.

HDRC distributes over 200 food parcels every week alongside a ‘help yourself’ breakfast and a hot lunch. Catered meal times provide a social space to help combat isolation and loneliness. Hygiene packs - which include a toothbrush, toothpaste, washing up liquid, cooking oil and sanitary towels - are also distributed where necessary. In times of severe financial crisis, individuals may be forced to sacrifice buying hygiene products, so these packs help beneficiaries maintain normality and dignity, while improving self-esteem.

Hackney Destitution Resource Centre and In Kind Direct

The British Red Cross Refugee Services have been regularly receiving products from In Kind Direct for almost a decade.

“The centre orders a range of hygiene and cleaning products from In Kind Direct, both for giving out to our service users, in hygiene packs and food parcels, and for cleaning the centre” says Gloria, Service Manager. Beneficiaries largely have no method of generating income; monthly packages of hygiene products from In Kind Direct therefore allow them to spend any money that they have on necessities, such as travel to legal appointments.

“In Kind Direct is embedded into our service! The centre needs core supplies for hygiene packs such as toothpaste, washing up liquid and nappies on a regular basis, and we are very dependent on In Kind Direct to keep our service going. We rely on In Kind Direct heavily for our supplies, it really is key to us.”

Gloria also explained that In Kind Direct not only allowed the centre to make considerable savings, but also to provide quality, branded goods for their beneficiaries. “Parents loved being able to use Pampers nappies for their children and having Fairy washing up liquid in their hygiene packs. Thanks to In Kind Direct, we don’t have to compromise on quality.”