The Manuel Bravo project in Leeds can continue to provide legal support to asylum seekers for the next three years thanks to major grants from The Big Lottery and Comic Relief .
Manager, Catherine Beaumont, says, "This is great news and follows nine months of uncertainty when we were unsure whether the project could continue. But through successful grant applications, an online appeal, a raffle (in which prizes were a day’s work experience in law firms), and a quiz night run by Broadway House Chambers, the project can continue providing services for these people who are in great need."
The Revd Kingsley Dowling, Vicar of Wortley & Farnley, is on the charity's management commitee. He says, "Our management committee is made up of representatives from local and national organisations, churches, ex-clients and volunteers. We want to say a huge thank you to all those who supported us while things were difficult - it shows both that our services are needed and how committed all our staff, volunteers and board of trustees are to the work we do".
The Manuel Bravo Project is named after an asylum seeker from Angola, who tragically took his own life in 2005. He fled to the UK after his pro-democracy activity led to attacks on his family, including the murder of his parents. At Manuel’s asylum hearing, his solicitor did not attend and he was forced to represent himself. He did not learn that his claim for asylum had been finally refused, until his removal to a deportation centre. Fearing persecution if returned to his home country, he took his own life, hoping his son would be allowed to remain safely in the UK.