ARSP is a German organisation, established in the late 1950s to run reconciliation programmes in countries that suffered under the Nazi regime, both before and during the Second World War. As time passes one challenge ARSP consistently faces is how to diversify its programmes whilst remaining true to its original aims of not only facilitating reconciliation, but also fighting racism, discrimination and prejudice wherever they occur.
As asylum seekers often find themselves excluded from UK society SDCAS is a perfect partner for our current UK programme, which brings around 12-16 young people from Germany and Poland to the UK every September to work in various charities across London and Coventry for a year. Providing support to these often vulnerable people corresponds directly to ARSP’s goals of fighting intolerance and exclusion and raising awareness of contemporary forms of discrimination in the thirteen different countries we currently operate in. Each year I ask the volunteers to present their projects to their peers. Usually the volunteer shows the short film produced a few years ago about SDCAS. The volunteers are always struck by the power of this film and the difficulties often encountered by asylum seekers, as well as the incredible support they receive at SDCAS. The film is always followed by a long discussion and many questions, perhaps because issues around immigration continue to remain so central to the political discourse in the UK, reflecting the relevance and importance of SDCAS’ work.
In my view it is imperative that asylum seekers have the opportunity to establish themselves in the UK and am delighted that ARSP works with an organisation like SDCAS that does so much to make this a reality.