A TRANSPORT fund to get refugees and asylum seekers to essential appointments needs to raise £150 a month in pledges.

The bus scheme would help refugees and asylum seekers travel to Home Office appointments from their accommodation – which is often situated in outer suburbs.

Asylum seeker support group Swindon City of Sanctuary hope to raise £150 a month in direct debit pledges from supporters.

Bus company Thamesdown have already offered to match-fund the £150 – going some way to helping with transport costs for the almost 190 refugees living in the town while their asylum claims are processed.

Swindon is one of four towns in the south west designated by government as “dispersal” towns. While they are housed here, the refugees are given just over £5 a day on which to live.

Fiona Harvey of Swindon City of Sanctuary said that many asylum seekers and refugees are living in “hostels” in North Swindon: “It can mean they’re quite isolated and can’t get into the Harbour Project to access the facilities they need.”

They are not helped by rules that require them to register with Home Office staff at Gablecross Police Station.

Swindon City of Sanctuary hope that the scheme will become self-sustaining. “If 30 people gave a fiver a month we would then be able to match that,” said Fiona.

Alex Chutter, Thamesdown general manager said: “This is a wonderfully diverse and welcoming town and, as established members of the local community, we would like to echo the sentiments of those who live here.

“Refugees in Swindon come to us because they believe in our humanity and compassion. And if the team here at Thamesdown can demonstrate our support for them - even in a small way - then we will.”

Thamesdown have become the first large business in Swindon to pledge support to City of Sanctuary. It sees the business publicly recognise the contribution of asylum seekers and refugees to Swindon, welcoming them to the community.

City of Sanctuary and Thamesdown were introduced through Swindon's Business Connector Thomas Craigie.

To contribute to the City of Sanctuary transport fund, visit: www.localgiving.org/appeal/scostransportfund.