In November 2002, some members of the African refugee community in Peterborough came together to set up an organisation to address the complex needs of new and existing arrivals into the area. The organisation became known as the Peterborough African Refugee Community Association (PARCA). However, in 2011 the organisation changed its name to PROMOTING AFRICAN REFUGEE COMMUNITY ASSOCIATION (PARCA) in order to incorporate not only the Greater Peterborough area but the whole of the United Kingdom and Africa.
Asylum seekers and Refugees come from many diverse cultural backgrounds where English is seldom their first language. This apparent language barrier can make it very difficult for most of them to integrate successfully into British society.
They lack the information and advice that they require on many essential matters including; immigration, education, training, employment and housing & social welfare benefits. Thus, they tend to live in isolation and deprivation. Asylum seekers and refugees suffer from the inability to access resources. They are more likely to suffer from; poor health, unemployment, low income, low uptake of service provisions, and a lack of opportunities in general.
Asylum seekers and refugees find themselves without any support from key workers or trained volunteers who could ensure that their welfare rights are protected, as is required by government legislation. Statutory and voluntary service providers in Peterborough have no experience in dealing with the target group (French, Swahili, Lingala, Kikongo, Kirundi, Bambara and Tshiluba).
The Peterborough Council for Voluntary Services (PCVS) continues to provide vital support for PARCA as it endeavours to serve the refugee community.
PARCA was set up in order to fill this gap. There is no doubt that a large proportion of the targeted people are in dispersal areas such as Cambridgeshire. Desperate initiatives were undertaken in the past to try to achieve an overall action plan for the possible future activities of the organisation. Sadly, most of these initiatives failed because they were led on a voluntary basis, and thus lacked experienced professionals and leadership. They also had an absence of dedicated members who were willing to sit down and objectively address all of the issues that face the refugee community today.