26 Apr 2012

Lunch meeting: speaker Mr Cosmo Beatson of Vision First

Our Birthday Boy today was PP Kishore Sakhrani, we sang a birthday song to him and President Martin presented a bottle of red wine as Birthday Gift.

The speaker today was Mr. Cosmo Beatson and his topic was “Refugees Stranded in Hong Kong”.  Cosmo Beatson, Executive Director, is British national and grew up in Italy before moving to Hong Kong in 1989. He is married and has two daughters, Camelot 11 and Mira 0. He ran an automotive trading company for two decades, retiring in 2008 to devote his life to humanitarian affairs. A passionate teacher at the Catholic Cathedral’s Sunday School, he loves sharing his faith to inspire change through social engagement and responsibility. In spring 2009 he volunteered at Christian Action Refugee Services, in Chung King Mansion, prior to founding Vision First with a group of like-minded friends. His personal values and friendship with refugees ensure our driving spirit is solidarity - rooted in the fundamental rights and dignity of each individual.

Cosmo founded Vision First provides which provide humanitarian services to UNHCR asylum-seekers and refugees already present in Hong Kong (SAR). With a view to finding local solutions to local issues, Vision First assists displaced and dispossessed persons — on behalf of the Hong Kong community. A cursory view clearly demonstrates that this challenge is too multifaceted for any one organization to handle effectively; Vision First strives to make a positive contribution, offering necessary services, as well as filling in present gaps and going beyond — by capacity-building with the community and this vulnerable population. Vision First provides basic needs such as food, shelter and medication, advocacy and psychological counseling, medical services and long-term accommodation, emergency assistance, vocational training as well as life skills.

Despite being among the most needy and vulnerable, Asylum seekers and Refugees frequently endure a maze of bureaucracy, blatant discrimination and racism throughout the resettlement process. In addition, the social assistance provided is piecemeal at best, with glaring gaps and overlapping services. The welfare and well-being of asylum-seekers and refugees in Hong Kong is therefore extremely hard to develop and maintain outside the NGO-Network. Members require resources to gain empowerment and confidence to integrate into society. Furthermore, the skills and knowledge they obtain in Hong Kong during the Refugee Status Determination (RSD) process will enhance their options after resettlement or repatriation.

Vision First is actively engaged in linking all available resources and strives to secure partnerships with the Hong Kong community. The NGO-Network integrates services, promotes the sharing of resources and pairs competencies. Specialized expertise within the established network will enable Vision First to deliver high quality services to an underrepresented population.

As an independent not-for-profit organization, Vision First does not receive government funding. They rely entirely on volunteers and donations from our generous community to run programs to serve the Asylum Seeker& Refugee (AS&R) community.  They operates with no overhead expenses, even the newly opened centre is fully funded by a private donor. With a passionate team of volunteers who donate their time, expertise and personal resources, they pledge to employ 100% of the donation directly to the AS&Rs who need it most.

We collected HK$1,600 for raffle and fines and all agreed to donated to Vision First.  President Martin got the raffle prize as a book.