The Mary Thompson Fund was set up in 2001 to respond to the critical and urgent needs of those who are seeking sanctuary or are settled refugees in the Tees Valley.
It was originally intended to improve the quality of life of refugees by giving grants to meet the costs of study, winter clothes or travelling to visit relatives. However, as Immigration Policy became more draconian and people experienced increasing hardship, the main purpose of the Fund today is to alleviate destitution. We support those with nowhere else to turn, helping them with emergency food packs and cash payments, expenses incurred in pursuit of their asylum claims (travel to appointments, obtaining evidence), maternity wear and baby needs, ‘phone cards, medical expenses and the cost of activities for children to avoid stigma and social isolation. Help is provided when no other sources of assistance are available. Often people come to us when they are in crisis, usually when their asylum claims have been refused and they lose their entitlement to support, even though they may be unable to return to their country of origin. People seeking asylum are not allowed to work or claim benefits, so many are forced to live rough.