Mental Health and Well-being Activities Programme (delivered in partnership)

The Mental Health and Well-being Activities Programme (2017-2020) is funded by City of York Council for three years and reflects its commitment and investment in mental health provision and the early intervention and prevention agenda.

York Mind in partnership with Converge, Kyra, Sunshine Changing Lanes, York LGBT Forum, York Carers Centre, Refugee Action York-RAY, WEA and Move the Masses are supporting the delivery of Year 3 of the programme (July 2019-June 2020).

Activities run across the year, with staggered start dates and include Guided learning, such as Mindfulness, Assertiveness Skills, Creative Writing, Arts and Craft, Photography, and Pathways to Well-being. We also deliver Weekend Workshops on Conflict Resolution, Anxiety and Fear and Loneliness and Isolation; Well-being activities including Yoga, Pop up Fitness Sessions, Peer Support, Carer Well-being, as well as social activities including LGBT Choir, Walking Group, community socials and an open access cafe. 

An important part of the programme, is that participants are able to select those activities that they feel will support them the most, based on their own interests, needs and goals.


Social Activities — Well-being for Men Delivered by RAY (Refugee Action York).

Dates:  Starting Sunday 15th September 2019, weekly until Sunday 23rd February 2020 (except for during school holidays when the project will not be running)

Venue:  Clifton Green Primary School, Kingsway North, York, YO30 6JA

Time: 1-3pm During our regular Sunday afternoon sessions for refugees, asylum seekers and migrants living in York, Well-being for Men is a space where men can spend time together chatting and playing board games. Staff, volunteers, occasionally a health professional, and a translator will be available to chat and offer support where needed. As part of the project there will also be a few trips, including one to the Yorkshire Museum of Farming. Other trips will include group cycle rides exploring routes out into the countryside.

RAY's first 10 years.......

Refugee Action York achieved charity status in 2009 and on the 1st of April, RAY's manager, Carrie Wheater, celebrated 10 years working at RAY. We thought that supporters would be interested to read Carrie's thoughts on how things have changed over her 10 years -

'RAY became a registered charity in 2009, and at the same time was fortunate to receive our first official funding. This was from City of York Council, and was given to RAY to fund the work of a part-time “Drop-In Coordinator”, to oversee the running of the weekly Sunday Drop-In session. At the time I had been volunteering with RAY for a few months. I applied for the post, was appointed as the first ever paid employee of RAY, and started work on 1st April 2009.

At that time we had regular contact with 10 adults and 23 children, around 15 volunteers, and were meeting weekly in a church hall. The children had a weekly Turkish class, and as numbers started to grow, we found we needed more rooms. Bootham Junior School kindly stepped in at that time and offered us the use of their premises, and we continued to meet there for a couple of years. By then, numbers had increased again and we needed yet more rooms! We were offered the use of Clifton Children’s Centre, which has been a fantastic facility for us ever since.

In June 2013 we consulted with some of the teenagers, who had stopped attending on Sunday afternoons (apparently it was not cool to be out with your mum and younger siblings on a Sunday afternoon!) and as a result we started running a fortnightly youth club, 4Corners, based at Moor Lane Youth Centre in Dringhouses. This has evolved somewhat since those early days, but continues to run fortnightly now, with sports sessions now offered on the alternate weeks.

By autumn 2017 numbers on Sunday afternoons had increased again to the point that we were really struggling to manage in the Children’s Centre, when a fortuitous meeting (in the midst of a loud fire alarm!) with the Headteacher of Clifton Green Primary School (next to the Children’s Centre) led to an offer of us expanding to use the school too. Since then we have been running the Hub across both buildings, and we are now working with around 120 adults and children on a regular basis. Our team has also increased to 5 part-time staff, and around 100 volunteers.

Looking back at some early newsletters and report from 2009, I was reminded of the progress some of our service users have made since then. I mentioned then “the pre-school children of one Kurdish woman have increased in confidence so much that, whereas previously they would never leave her side, they are now happy to attend Turkish Class and other activities without her.” That family are still attending now (in their mid-teens, and no doubt would hate to be reminded of their crying days!). They are still enjoying Turkish classes and in the case of the mother, English classes.

I also came across information about some campaigning we carried out that summer, against the deportation of a family who were related to some of our service users. The deportation was stopped at the last minute, and the family are now part an integral part of our RAY community. It just goes to show that we can make a real difference.

Over the last 10 years I have had the privilege of working with some fantastic colleagues, Trustees, and dedicated volunteers, and of getting to know many lovely refugee, asylum seeker and migrant families. We have some very sad times, including the deaths of some much-loved volunteers and service users. However, we have also welcomed many new volunteers and families to RAY – some new to York, some new even to the UK, and we have also shared the happiness of new babies joining their families at RAY.

As I started to write this piece, I did some rough calculations, and as a conservative estimate I would say that RAY has helped well over 300 people over the last 10 years. Some of them have moved on, some still use our services and others come and go as and when they need our support.

A particular highlight of my time at RAY has been the residential trips we have taken young people on, and the day trips to the beach we have all been on together. Relaxing together; having the time to spend getting to know each other a bit better; sharing food; watching children run into the sea for the first time ever (albeit fully clothed, they were so excited!) - there is nothing quite like it!'

From reading Carrie's thoughts and from the fact that she has been involved for 10 years it is evident that she has played an integral role in RAY's development and I think it is safe to say that it wouldn't have been as successful without her. So on behalf of RAY's service users, volunteers, staff and trustees, a big THANK YOU for her hard work over the past 10 years.


RAY Chair's 2018 Report

Our aims are twofold - to advance education and relieve financial hardship amongst migrants, those seeking asylum and those granted refugee status; and to advance the education of the public about the issues relating to refugees and those seeking asylum. We have continued to work towards both these aims in the year April 2017 to March 2018.

We have seen another year of increased need for the services we provide, a year of expansion and growth. Two years ago, I reported that about 40 people each week attended the Hub and our service users came from 8 different countries of origin. Last year, I reported 80 people from 12 countries of origin. This year has seen another expansion with around 120 people receiving our services, and these come from 18 different countries of origin. In other words, the number of those who come to us has tripled since the end of 2016. We now have as well over 100 volunteers. This has been challenging to staff - in particular the complexity of needs and the range of different languages as well as the recruitment, deployment and support to our volunteers.

In order to meet this, by the end of March 2018 we had :

 increased staff hours

 developed new services, including Women’s Health sessions and a Mother and Baby group.

 Taken the Youth Group on a weekend residential trip to Whitby

 increased the number of English language classes to 4 at the Hub

 Introduced a new Database system to keep records up to date and facilitate evaluation reports

 continued to work with the Local Authority and the Refugee Council to welcome and help settle a number of families and individuals from Syria

We continue to provide signposting to key agencies, eg Citizen's Advice York, the Education Department, legal advice, Food Bank, housing, City of Sanctuary. We are seeing an increasing number of families and individuals with complex immigration needs, who we are able to support by referring to or liaising with other agencies, and offering help from our Hardship fund where appropriate.

in addition, we ran in partnership with Family Matters a further parenting course, this time for parents of teenagers, in the Autumn of 2017.

We were very fortunate during 2017 to 2018 to be chosen by the then Lord Mayor, Cllr Barbara Boyce, as one of her three charities for the year. This brought new learning and new experiences to us as we worked with our colleagues in Keep Your Pet and in Hearing Dogs for Deaf People to organise fund raising events throughout the year. We are extremely grateful to Cllr Boyce, and the Civic Party, but particularly to her for her hard work in searching out fundraising opportunities, organising many and attending all of the events. This raised nearly £15,000, which will provide direct support to our service users .

All our services, from the Hub to the Youth club to the individual family support depend on our volunteers. Without their efforts, none of our work would be possible. Volunteers have enabled us to expand the service we are able to offer, to provide more individual support to families, individuals and children. We continue to be grateful to them for their energy, commitment and hard work.

I also would like to thank our supporters who have been so busy raising funds for RAY and raising awareness of the plight of asylum seekers and refugees in York. They have raised fantastic amounts of money between them, enabling us to offer a much more flexible service and to meet individual needs.

Finally, I have to thank Carrie Wheater and her staff - Carole, John and Zainah - for their hard work, enthusiasm and commitment which has made it possible for us to continue to grow our services and meet the growing needs of our community.

RAY is always interested in hearing from those who would like to become involved in our organisation in some way. So, if you would be interested in volunteering, fundraising or becoming involved in some other way then please do let us know!

Thank You, Lord Mayor

As you may know RAY was one of York’s Lord Mayor’s charities. Councillor Barbara Boyce was the Lord Mayor last year and she chose RAY to be one of the three charities supported during her year of office. The numerous fund raising events that took place during the year raised over £45,000 which is a fantastic achievement, and a massive thank you to everyone concerned.

Here’s Councillor Barbara Boyce (in the middle) presenting the cheque to Carole Jackson and Lois Gregory of RAY.


2018 Annual General Meeting

The 2018 Annual General Meeting (AGM) of Refugee Action York (RAY) will be held at Clifton Green Primary School, Water Lane,  York, YO30 6JA on Sunday 18th November  at 4.00 p.m.  The venue will be open from 3.45 pm. Please come along to hear what RAY has been doing over the past 12 months.

All current members and supporters of RAY are invited to attend. New members, who support the objectives of RAY, are welcome to join and membership forms will be available at the AGM. There is no membership subscription but donations are welcome. 

The AGM Agenda is -

1. Welcome

2. Apologies

3. Minutes of the AGM held on 12 November 2017 and matters arising

4. Chair’s report

5. Annual Accounts to 31 March 2018 and Treasurer’s report

6. Election of Trustees

7. Talk by Service Users about RAY

8. Any other business

9. Closing

Please let us know if you are planning to attend so that we know how many to cater for. In addition we can then email you the Minutes of the 2017 AGM, the Chair’s Report, Treasurer’s Report and Election of Trustees. Please contact us via Dave Burgess (Trustee) on